Handling Mail and Biological Hazards – LR 701.19

Back to Facilities

University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Policy Name: Handling Mail and Biological Hazards
Policy Number: LR 701.19
Effective Date: October 18, 2001
Revised Dates:
Most Recent Review Date:



The purpose of the policy is to promote safety on campus by setting up precautionary measures for handling suspicious mail. Mail Services will pre-screen mail and notify Public Safety of any suspicious letters or packages. Rather than delivering such items, they will notify the department or person involved that a letter or package has been given to Public Safety.

Implementation Procedures

In the event a strange letter or package is received in a UALR office the following procedures should be followed.

Do not open mail with these characteristics:

  • No return address.
  • Excessive postage.
  • Handwritten or poorly typed address of a suspicious nature.
  • Misspelling of common words.
  • Restrictive markings such as “Confidential,” “Personal,” etc.
  • Excessive weight, bulky, or heavily taped letters or packages, or a powdery or unknown substance evident on the outside.

General precautions:

  • Have one person responsible for opening all mail in an office.
  • Consider opening the mail only once each day.
  • Have rubber gloves available for the person who opens the mail. Do not use a particular pair of gloves more than one time. If the gloves come in contact with any suspicious substance, dispose of them in a Ziploc bag and keep them in a suitable container until Public Safety picks them up.
  • Ziploc bags and rubber gloves for use on the campus are available from Central Stores at no charge. A representative from each office may pick up an initial supply.

If you come in contact with a suspicious letter:

  • Do not open the letter. Place it in a Ziploc bag and immediately call UALR Public Safety at 501-916-3400.
  • Relax and remain calm. Although any threat of a biological agent must be treated as though it is real, the FBI says most of these threats are hoaxes. Health experts also ask us to remember that anthrax is NOT contagious and that treatment is readily available. Any person perpetrating a hoax of this nature will be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible under the law.

If you have already opened the letter:

  • Set it down gently, and then move to an area that will minimize your exposure to others. Avoid contact with others if possible, but remain in the area. Public Safety and health assistance will come to you. Tell the nearest coworker what has happened and ask him or her to call Public Safety at 501-916-3400.
  • Tell your coworker to call Facilities Management at 501-569-3390 to have the building’s ventilation system shut down. Have a coworker turn off any fans in the area.
  • Do not allow others into the area. Anyone who does enter should stay until instructed to leave by Public Safety or health responders.
  • Remain calm. Exposure does not mean that you will become sick. Public Safety and health responders will provide specific information and instructions about the symptoms and effective treatment to prevent illness.
  • Do not pass the letter or note to others. Do not disturb any contents in the letter or note. Handling the letter may only spread the substance inside and increase the chances of it getting into the air.

In the event the decision is made to evacuate a building, only campus security is authorized to sound the fire alarm. If a fire alarm sounds, evacuate all rooms in the building immediately. Do not wait for confirmation. The building will remain evacuated and all classes in the building will be canceled pending posting of a notice of the resumption of classes in the building on radio stations, TV stations, and the UALR home page. If a real threat is confirmed, the university will notify all persons presumed to have been in the building at the time of evacuation and will diligently seek others who may have been in the building. Any unauthorized person sounding a fire alarm will be treated as if he or she has perpetrated a serious crime.

Source: University-wide Administrative Memo October 18, 2001
Status: Active
Approved: Dr. Charles Hathaway