Lawmakers on Alert - Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Lawmakers on Alert

Authorities are investigating letters showing up at offices across the country. Hitting close to home, Hazmat Units were called out to Senator John Cornyn's, Farmer's Branch office, after a mail worker came across a suspicious package. The package tested negative for Ricin. The same chemical found in letters sent to President Obama and a Mississippi Senator. This has lawmakers on alert. "We are constantly staying in contact with the capitol police. And just are pretty observant about what goes on in our offices," Said Sandra Ross District Director for Congressman Mac Thornberry.

Ross says they are always on guard. "We're always vigilant with the mail that comes into the office. We receive mail on a daily basis, and we're always vigilant. Anything suspicious we contact the capitol police and the local law enforcement," Ross said. Dr. Rodney Cate Department Chair at Midwestern State University says Ricin is a highly dangerous substance when inhaled or injested. "You will go into organ failure, is one of the responses. Even in ingesting it because, if it gets into the blood stream through the intestines you've essentially been poisoned, said Dr. Cate.

Used in targeted attacks, a lethal dose of Ricin is comparable to just a few grains of salt. Fortunately it works slowly in the human body and is not contagious. Dr. Cate said, it's not an immediate kill type poison. It takes anywhere from three to five days to die from this."

Ross says there are procedures in place when packages and other mailings are suspicious but, day to day operations will continue. "We're just constantly aware to make sure that we stay safe and that the people that visit our office are also safe," said Ross.

Jenyne Donaldson, Newschannel Six.

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