More than a hundred students, faculty and staff at Adelphi University were quarantined for hours after the discovery of an unusual powder spilled in front of a meeting room Tuesday, Nassau County police said.
Forensic testing later revealed the gritty dark orange powder appeared to be a medicated foot powder, Det. Lt. Kevin Smith said.
Around 9:30 a.m., staffers coming out of a closed-door meeting on the second-floor of Alumnae Hall called campus security and 911 to report a "suspicious substance" outside the room, police said. The building houses the Garden City school's nursing program.
After initial testing indicated the substance was foot powder, the quarantine remained in effect through the afternoon as investigators completed their work. Those inside were released shortly after 3:30 p.m.
Jodi DiGennaro, assistant to the dean for administrative services, said she saw the powdered substance. "It looked like Tang," she said.
Sophomore Aldiana Djonovic, 19, of Hicksville, who spoke during the quarantine by mobile phone, said the ordeal was "horrible." She was stuck along with 20 other students of her education class.
Djonovic, other students and staff were retained in individual classrooms and told not to eat anything in case of potential contamination. The students were given water, she said.
As Djonovic's classmate Stephanie Sepulveda, 19, of Franklin Square, emerged from the building after the quarantine was lifted, she said she was relieved to be out and quite hungry.
"I'm lightheaded right now," she said. The students passed the time by trying to guess what the orange powder was, Sepulveda said. "They thought it was Doritos or chalk," she said.
Earlier, Adelphi spokeswoman Kali Chan, the school's director of media relations, said volunteers from the Garden City Fire Department, as well as police and university security personnel, responded to the scene. Adelphi officials later referred requests for comment to the police.
In another incident at Adelphi at about 3:53 p.m., students who reside in a 200-bed dormitory called New Hall were evacuated after a contractor doing construction hit a gas line, causing a gas odor, said spokeswoman Lori Duggan Gold. Students were allowed back in by 4:21 p.m., she said.
With John Valenti