Packages that may contain ricin found on Pentagon grounds

UNITED STATES- SEPTEMBER 24 Aerial view of the Pentagon building

The mail distribution center where the mail arrived and was flagged isn't in the Pentagon but nearby, the officials said.

CNN reported that the letters were addressed to Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson.

Neither envelope entered the Pentagon.

Pentagon spokesman Chris Sherwood said the envelopes had been found on Monday (local time).

'As this is ongoing, we will have no further comment, ' a spokesman said.

The remote mail facility was set up after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent anthrax scare, to ensure that letters and packages can be screened for risky substances before they enter the Pentagon.

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The facility is now under quarantine, defence officials said on Tuesday. No word yet on how much of the poison was discovered, or if anyone came in contact with it.

It can be used in powder, pellet, mist or acid form.

Also on Tuesday, two people at Republican Senator Ted Cruz's office in Houston, Texas, were taken to hospital after coming into contact with a "white powdery substance", officials say.

"Unintentional exposure to ricin is highly unlikely, except through the ingestion of castor beans", the CDC says.

Notable Ricin poisonings include the deadly poisoning of Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian writer and journalist who was living in London in 1978. That same month, an Islamic extremist ricin attack planned for Germany was foiled.

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