Environmental Health and Radiation Safety

What to do in the event of a SUSPICIOUS LETTER /  PACKAGE / SUBSTANCE

NOTE: Health Science Campus employees should refer to the Management of Suspicious Packages Procedure, # HM-08-032, for protocols unique to the patient care setting.

Be cautious of: 

  • Foreign mail, air mail, and special deliveries.
  • Restrictive markings such as “confidential” or “personal."
  • Excessive postage.
  • Handwritten or poorly typed address.
  • Incorrect titles.
  • Misspellings of common words.
  • Oily stains or discolorations on package.
  • Excessive weight.
  • Rigid, lopsided, or uneven envelopes.
  • Protruding wires or tinfoil.
  • Excessive tape or string.
  • Visual distractions.
  • No return address.

What to do if you receive a suspicious letter or package:

  • Do not touch or move the article.
  • Do not try to open the package.  If there is spilled powder, do not try to clean it up and do not smell, touch or taste the material.
  • Do not shake or bump the package or letter.
  • Isolate the package, placing it in a sealable plastic bag, if available.
  • Do not put in water or a confined space such as a desk drawer or a filing cabinet.
  • If possible, open windows in the immediate area to assist in venting potential explosive gases.
  • Calmly alert others in the immediate area and leave the area, closing the door behind you.
  • Wash hands and exposed skin vigorously with soap and flowing water for at least 20 seconds.  Antibacterial soaps that do not require water are not effective for removing anthrax or other threatening materials. 
  • Call University Police at x-2600 and give them your exact location.
  • Wait for UT Police to respond. Tell them of everyone who may have been exposed to the package. Do not leave the building unless instructed to do so by UT Police.

If you have any reason to believe a letter or parcel is suspicious,
do not take a chance or worry about possible embarrassment 
if the item turns out to be innocent.

UTPolice will respond and will contact local, state and federal authorities, as appropriate. 

Pranks and Hoaxes:

Pranks or hoaxes involving false threats of anthrax exposure – or exposure to other hazards – disrupt lives, create serious safety concerns, and tax valuable University and community resources. They create illegitimate alarm in a time of legitimate concern. 

University and law enforcement authorities take all such actions very seriously.  University Police will aggressively investigate any such incidents.  Any individual found responsible for such acts will be subject to University disciplinary action and prosecution under State and Federal law.

Last Updated: 6/30/19