Louisiana VA white powder found to be non-toxic

Business returned to normal on Tuesday at the Alexandria Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Pineville, Louisiana, after officials learned that a white powdery substance from an envelope received at the facility was non-toxic.

Officials said that the substance could have been the cause of an illness suffered by the employee who opened the letter, The News Star reports. The state Department of Health and Hospitals sent word Tuesday afternoon that the substance from the envelope was not anthrax or any other toxic substance that could be used in bioterrorism.

The employee visited her personal physician over the weekend and was diagnosed with upper respiratory problems, Gracie Specks, the Alexandra VA director, said, The News Star reports.

"She reported Monday that there was some powdery substance on one of the envelopes, which was the right thing to do," Specks said, according to The News Star.

Thirty-five people who either touched the envelope or came into contact with someone who did went through the on-site decontamination unit, which required shedding clothes and showering.

The employee noticed the powdery substance on one of the pieces of mail she processed, but it was not accompanied with a threatening letter or other notice of potential harm. She returned to work at the hospital’s business office on Tuesday.