At approximately 4 p.m. today — Thursday, October 24, 2013 — the Brown Department of Public Safety received a call to respond to Graduate Center Tower E (an administrative office building located within a residential complex) for a medical assist. Two staff members were reporting adverse physical reactions to an unknown chemical smell apparently from a letter which had been opened in the office area.
Emergency personnel from multiple agencies responded to the call and evacuated the office building as a precaution. The affected individuals, who reported symptoms of watery eyes and a chemical taste in the throat and mouth area, were evaluated and treated by medical professionals. Three other staff members and one student who were in the area where the letter was opened and first responders were also evaluated.
A hazardous materials specialty team from the Providence Fire Department examined the area and conducted air quality tests. All tests were normal and no areas of concern were identified. Contrary to media reports, no powder or other substances were observed. The nearby residence halls were not affected and the building was restored to normal operations a short time later.
An investigation of the incident by law enforcement authorities is ongoing. There are no ongoing health or safety concerns or threats to the campus.