A Facebook mail facility in Menlo Park, California has a machine that detects hazardous substances in mail, according to NBC Bay Area. On Monday, that machine alerted employees to the possible presence of sarin in one of the mailbags. Two employees were taken to the hospital as a precaution of possible exposure, though they were not displaying symptoms. They were being monitored for any signs of exposure, but thus far there have been none.
After the machine alerted, several buildings were evacuated. Fire Department officials deemed those safe and employees have returned with the exception of one. The mail bag is under quarantine for further testing. Fire officials told the Business Insider that the sarin detection could be a false positive, but until more testing is completed, it will remain an unknown.
Sarin symptoms can begin within seconds or hours. Some of those include: Runny nose, Watery eyes, Small, pinpoint pupils, Eye pain, Blurred vision, Drooling and excessive sweating, Cough, Chest tightness, Rapid breathing, Diarrhea, Nausea, vomiting, and/or abdominal pain, Increased urination, Confusion, Drowsiness, Weakness, Headache, and respiratory failure.
Sarin was developed in 1938 by Germany as a pesticide. According to the CDC,
“Sarin is a human-made chemical warfare agent classified as a nerve agent. Nerve agents are the most toxic and rapidly acting of the known chemical warfare agents. They are similar to certain kinds of insecticides (insect killers) called organophosphates in terms of how they work and what kind of harmful effects they cause. However, nerve agents are much more potent than organophosphate pesticides…Sarin is a clear, colorless, and tasteless liquid that has no odor in its pure form. However, sarin can evaporate into a vapor (gas) and spread into the environment.”
The screening of the mail by the machine is a routine action. There is a high probability of a false positive. The FBI is on scene. We will update this story when more is learned.
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