Md. Inmate's Mail Prompts Hazmat Call

BEL AIR, Md. --

A Harford County Detention Center employee was exposed to a possible hazardous substance while sorting incoming inmate mail Thursday, authorities said.

Authorities said members from the Harford County Sheriff's Office, Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company and the Harford County Hazardous Materials Response Team responded to the Harford County Detention Center on Rock Spring Road in Bel Air at about 5:30 p.m. after receiving a report of an employee's exposure to an unknown substance while sorting incoming inmate mail.

The employee told her supervisor that she felt lightheaded and had a metallic taste in her mouth after coming in contact with an unknown substance, and investigators said the symptoms were consistent with a narcotic exposure.

Harford County Detention Center supervisors evacuated and quarantined the area involved, a mail room which is only accessible to staff. Authorities said inmates or members of the public were not in any danger.

The employee was assessed at the scene by the hazmat team and medics before she was taken to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, where she is reported to be in stable condition, authorities said.

The Harford County Hazardous Materials Response Team sampled the involved area and determined that the substance was not biological in nature, but authorities said the final results regarding the nature of the substance are still pending.

A second contaminated letter was also involved and is believed to be narcotic in nature, investigators said.

Harford County Sheriff's Office Special Investigation Division is conducting an investigation.

The involved area was cleared by Harford County hazmat team and shortly before 9 p.m., it was determined that there was no bio-hazard reaction to the employee, so the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene also cleared the site returning control of the involved area back to Harford County Detention Center personnel.

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