University News

Substance found in Grad Center believed harmless

Medical evaluations indicated those exposed to the substance suffered no serious health issues

By
City & State Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 29, 2013

After the discovery of an unidentified material initially believed to be hazardous in Graduate Center last Thursday, officials from the University and the Federal Bureau of Investigation said the building is safe, and the eight people who were evaluated by medical professionals are not seriously ill.

No hazardous materials were detected in the substance following a “preliminary analysis” conducted by the Rhode Island Department of Health, wrote Marisa Quinn, vice president for public affairs and University relations, in an email to The Herald.

“There is no known threat to the public,” said Special Agent Greg Comcowich, a spokesman for the FBI in Boston. But he said details about the incident are not available due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.

“It’s our policy not to reveal the type or nature of the substance,” he said.

Two staff members reported “watery eyes and a chemical taste in the throat and mouth area” after an envelope was opened in the office Thursday afternoon, according to a University press release. Medical professionals evaluated the staff members, first responders, and three other staff members and a student who were nearby.

“The individuals that were affected and treated are doing well,” Quinn wrote in an email to The Herald. At press time, representatives from the Rhode Island Department of Health did not respond to requests for comment on the results of its testing.

Students who live in Grad Center are not in any danger, according to the Brown press release.

Grad Center resident Asa Ohsaki ’15 said Grad Center’s brief closure “was just a lot of confusion.”

“There’s been no email regarding the incident” from the University, she said. “Nothing directly to us.”

Many Grad Center residents still have little idea of what exactly transpired, Ohsaki said. “It would be nice if there was a follow-up just to know what happened, since it happened so close to where I live,” she said.

“I’m curious to find out what happened,” said Residential Life employee Galen Hunt ’14, adding that he knows very little about the incident.

ResLife and the Office of Student Life both have office space on the fourth floor of Grad Center Tower E, where the envelope was opened.

Local police, fire department officials and the FBI are collaborating on the ongoing investigation, Comcowich said.

“We almost always are in constant contact,” he said.

 

-With reporting by Elizabeth Koh

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