White particles in mail from US turn out to be laundry powder
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White particles in mail from US turn out to be laundry powder

Police investigating whether envelope sent to Rishon Lezion address was prank or attempt to cause panic

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

File: A fire department hazmat team removes a suspicious envelope containing an unknown white powder from a Rishon Lezion home on January 7, 2016. (screen capture)
File: A fire department hazmat team removes a suspicious envelope containing an unknown white powder from a Rishon Lezion home on January 7, 2016. (screen capture)

An unidentified white powder found in an envelope and removed for testing from a home in Rishon Lezion on Wednesday has turned out to be laundry powder.

Police say that they are checking whether the powder — initially feared to be a dangerous chemical such as Anthrax — was mailed as a prank or an attempt to create panic, the Walla news site reported Monday.

The substance, which arrived at the home in an envelope from the United States, was taken to a facility in nearby Nes Ziona for examination.

The letter was initially tested by a special unit from the fire service, which concluded that the powder was unlikely to be toxic, Channel 2 reported last week.

Officials have long expressed fears that anthrax can be sent through the mail as a type of bio-terrorism.

Anthrax spores were mailed to US media offices and to two Democratic senators in 2001, as a result of which 22 people were infected and five died. The US postal service subsequently installed biohazard detection systems at major mail distribution depots.

In 2004, another highly-dangerous substance, the chemical ricin, was discovered in a mail room in the US Senate building.

Two years ago, it was identified in envelopes sent to US President Barack Obama, then New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and Republican Senator Roger Wicker.

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