Alabama postal workers and customers become ill, suspicious substance found

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Six workers in the post office in Hueytown, Alabama developed breathing problems and 23 were sent to the hospital after a chemical used in the manufacture of fishing lures leaked from a package.

The post office, located five miles west of downtown Birmingham, Alabama, was evacuated, and Hueytown firefighters in hazardous materials attire inspected the chemical. The chemical was found to have leaked from an inadequately designed package, evaporated quickly leaving a garlicky scent, and discolored the flooring tile in the post office. Workers complained of symptoms ranging from breathing difficulties to vomiting to burning in the throat.

The chemical was later identified as "J.J.'s Magic," a yellow dye for soft plastic fishing lures which contains garlic oil as a fish attractant. The manufacturer confirmed that a two-ounce bottle of the product was sent to a customer in suburban Birmingham and speculated that the container may have cracked in transit.