One of the dodgier uses for envelopes is to convey nasty spores like anthrax or material purporting to be so to disrupt government or municipal business. Recent scares in Alabama show that this practice continues apace in the US. A couple of weeks ago, envelopes containing white powder were sent to government buildings in five Alabama cities, shutting down two courthouses and trapping a congressman in his office as the substance was tested.
The FBI has investigated over 900 envelopes containing white powder over the last two years. The practice emerged shortly after after the 9/11 attacks when envelopes containing actual anthrax spores to two Democrat Senators and several media offices. Five people were killed and 17 more infected. Since then, hoaxes have been common, with any potentially dangerous powder having to be tested, disrupting everyday activity. Powders are tested by detection equipment developed by Universal Detection Technology.
“The recent white powder scares are a reminder that the bioterrorism threats are imminent and can strike anywhere, anytime,” said Jacques Tizabi, CEO of Universal Detection Technology. “No one can be sure in a case like this whether the substance at hand is truly anthrax or not without the proper detection equipment, so it is imperative that first responders treat every incident as an actual attack and are equipped with the appropriate tools to detect the presence of a bonafied bioweapon.”