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Anthrax Tests at Pentagon Prove Negative

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2001 – All tests for anthrax at the post office in the Pentagon Concourse are negative, DoD officials said today.

Pentagon spokesman Dick McGraw said the Defense Protective Service and subject matter experts performed exhaustive examination of the U.S. Postal Service area after the discovery of trace amounts of anthrax in two of the post office's rental boxes. Examiners found no evidence of biological agent contamination and no evidence that the agent had spread to the customer service area or any other areas, he said.

The Pentagon Concourse is a secured, enclosed shopping area used by employees.

The testing was done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under direction of the U.S. Postal Service. Officials hand-swabbed 150 locations in the area and tested them with hand-held assays designed to detect anthrax. "Every swab returned negative results," McGraw said. Experts also used wet and dry aerosol particle samplers to test the area and found no contamination.

The CDC decontaminated the entire post office area as a precaution. Defense officials are recommending that persons who rent Concourse post office boxes go to the Pentagon health clinic for medical evaluation and appropriate treatment.

Officials stressed that no DoD mail was affected. The Concourse post office and the building's Defense Post Office are separate entities with separate mail processing facilities.

A physical exam of the airflow in the Concourse post office indicated it is negatively pressurized -- that is, air flows in, not out. Officials said this greatly reduces the chance of contamination to other areas in the building except through the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. Officials tested each return duct in the system and all tests were negative.

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