Anthrax scare at Oklahoma City charity headquarters

White powder fell out of an envelope at the Feed the Children headquarters in Oklahoma City last week, prompting fears of anthrax.

Tests on the substance determined that it was nonhazardous and that it may have been corn starch, according to Oklahoma City Deputy Fire Chief Cecil Clay, reports.

The powder fell onto the hands, shirt and pants of one employee. Security officers at the charity turned off the air conditioner, secured the mail room and called the police immediately after the powder was discovered, according to  

There have been many suspected powder and other bioterror threats since the 2001 anthrax attacks that occurred shortly after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. In response, the U.S. Postal Service started a new Biological Detection System with units in 270 postal distribution and processing center. This system can screen the air around the sorting machines for potentially dangerous biological substances, reports.

“Since 2001 Postal Inspectors have responded to over 38,000 (suspected bioterror) incidents,” Peter Rendina, assistant inspector of the Washington Division of the Postal Inspection Service, said, according to, “Most of the time the substances/items were caused by customers wrapping food products incorrectly or forgetting their briefcase or backpack in the Post Office lobby.”

Weekly training is administered to postal employees, which includes security and safety related to reporting and detecting suspicious mail.