Dozen sickened at New Jersey postal annex amid report of sweet odor

An ambulance blends in with mail trucks after the evacuation of a postal annex in Hamilton, New Jersey.

Story highlights

  • Those who fell ill are being treated at the site and are improving, the mayor of Hamilton, New Jersey, says
  • Tests come back negative for biohazards, gases and chemicals, mayor says
  • A U.S. postal annex was evacuated after a call about a carrier passing out, a spokesman says

(CNN)A dozen people felt dizzy, lightheaded and nauseated at a postal annex in western New Jersey on Friday, sicknesses that authorities haven't been able to explain yet.

The first sign of trouble came around 9:50 a.m., with an emergency call about a man who was not feeling well, Hamilton, New Jersey, Mayor Kelly Yeade said. Hamilton police Lt. Richard Mastropolo said the man was a mail carrier who had passed out.
    First responders arrived and found that 12 people weren't feeling well, Yeade said. They were stable and improving early Friday afternoon after being evaluated and treated at the site, with the Hamilton mayor saying their hydration and blood pressure will continue to be monitored.
    Why did they get sick, and how serious is it? Those are the big questions.
    The best clue may be a distinctive odor around the annex and postal carrier hub on U.S. Highway 130 in Hamilton, a township near Trenton just a few miles from Pennsylvania. U.S. Postal Service spokesman Raymond Daiutolo Sr. characterized it as "sweet," and Yeade said workers called it "syrupy."
    A hazardous materials team has joined police at the site.
    So far, according to the Hamilton mayor, tests have come back negative for biological hazards. U.S. Postal Service inspector Reggie Wade added that sweeps of the building, which was evacuated, didn't reveal any dangerous gas or chemical.
    That investigation, though, isn't done.
      Mail carriers already out on their routes have been told they can come back to the postal hub if they feel ill, though they are not required to return. And local authorities "have reached out to state haz-mat to be very thorough" as they comb through the area, Yeade said.
      "It's an ongoing investigation, and we're not exactly sure what occurred," Wade said. "So we just want to check all vehicles, all the mail, just to be sure."