Poisoned Coffee Sent Harvard Researchers to Hospital

Investigation of August incident is underway to find how sodium azide got into coffee machine.


Six researchers at Harvard University were admitted to the hospital in August after drinking tainted coffee from a coffee machine in the New Research Building in Boston, the Harvard Crimson reports. The coffee was found to have sodium azide in it. At least one of the people poisoned was a Harvard student, according to the Boston Herald.

The story came to light in recent days after the Harvard Medical School on Friday released a memo detailing the incident. It was originally reported by the Herald, which is now reporting that an expert says the poisoned coffee was no accident.

"An accident? Sodium azide is a poison," David M. Benjamin, a toxicologist, tells the Herald. "Absolutely not."

According to the memo, the researchers were taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston with dizziness, fainting, and ringing in the ears, the Associated Press reports. The Herald says the victims also had low blood pressure.

An investigation has been ongoing since the incident occurred, but no details have been released.

"What I know at this point in time is that all options and potential avenues for how this could have happened are being very thoroughly and intensely investigated," David Cameron, a spokesman for Harvard Medical School, tells the Crimson.

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