MA Department of Public Health, MA Department of Fire Services in Collaboration with the towns of Athol, Royalston, Petersham and Phillipston
This morning some mail was delivered to some locations in Athol, Royalston, Petersham, and Phillipston that had come in contact with a brownish, sticky substance, before mail delivery was stopped.
The results of initial testing by the Department of Fire Services’ Hazardous Materials Response Team shows that the substance is glycerine (also known as glycerol), a sugar and alcohol based substance that is used in many every day products. Further laboratory testing is being conducted.
According to the Environmental Toxicology Program at the Department of Public Health, glycerine is essentially non-toxic and commonly used in low-fat foods, drugs and cosmetics. Examples include use as a sugar substitute in low-calorie foods.
For exposure to glycerine to affect our health, an individual would have to be exposed to a significant amount through the skin, air, or in consumed food or drinks. From what is known at this time, it is highly unlikely that anyone involved in this incident has been exposed to a significant amount.
The Department of Fire Services Hazardous Materials Division is currently working to confirm the identity of the substance.
The U.S. Postal Service is holding further mail deliveries to the four communities pending receipt of laboratory confirmation of the substance.
Further information will be shared once more is known.
If you have questions concerning the above please contact the Athol Police Department dispatch center at 978-249-3232.