Library employee at CU exposed to cyanide

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BOULDER, Colo. — University of Colorado officials came up empty-handed when reporters for the Boulder Daily Camera asked why cyanide, a deadly substance, was easily accessible while stored in the on-campus Norlin Library.

Questions about the cyanide were raised after an employee at the library became exposed after reaching into a bag containing the substance.

Officials said the bag was labeled “old and safe.”

“They keep a crystallized version of cyanide they use in displays,” a spokesman with the CU Police Department said. “It was not out for public viewing.”

It happened about 3:30 p.m. Friday. The employee reached into the bag and accidentally touched the substance. She then drove herself to the hospital as a precaution.

Boulder Fire Rescue determined the cyanide is not a threat to the public and noted the substance is “old and safe.”

Because the cyanide was not available for public viewing, it was being stored in a wing of the library.

Cyanide is a poison that can be deadly if swallowed but it is most harmful when inhaled.

Hydrogen cyanide gas — Zyklon B — was used during World War II to kill people trapped in gas chambers at concentration camps.

Neither the identity nor condition of the employee have been released. Officials didn’t disclose how the cyanide is displayed at the library.