Federal Bureau of Investigation

Police Investigating Possible Ricin Exposure at Retirement Community

Vermont State Police say they and the FBI are investigating possible exposure to the deadly toxin ricin at a retirement housing community in the town of Shelburne.

Police say first responders were called to Wake Robin on Tuesday and found that a substance field-tested positive for the poison. Testing at the Vermont Department of Health Laboratory early Wednesday also was positive for ricin.

The state health department says one resident of the retirement community is being monitored for possible exposure to the toxin, but right now, that is out of an abundance of caution.

Police said all areas potentially exposed have been evacuated and secured.

Federal agents who have taken over the investigation are still looking into how the substance got to an apartment at the retirement community, but the state's health commissioner says extreme precautions have been taken to make sure the public is in no danger.

"The facility has had a lot of attention made to it, with the haz-mat teams and others," Mark Levine said. "So there should be nothing there that would have the substance that people would come in contact with. So we don't believe that there is any danger to the public at large."

Ricin is found naturally in castor beans that can be treated to form an extremely toxic poison that can cause someone to become very sick or die, especially if it is inhaled in its powder form. Respiratory distress and other symptoms can occur within hours when inhaled or ingested.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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