True Crime

Was Harvard Coffee Poisoning Foul Play?

Harvard University Medical School has released scant details about a campus poisoning that occurred more than a month ago—but at least one expert is pointing to foul play. Six scientists and students were sent to the hospital on Aug. 26 after having ingested sodium azide with their morning coffee. Almost immediately after drinking from a communal coffee machine in the New Research Building’s pathology lab in Boston’s Longwood Medical area, the staff and students reported symptoms of dizziness and experienced low blood pressure. A leading toxicologist says that it's highly unlikely the toxic compound, an odorless white solid used in labs as a preservative, could have made its way into the coffee accidentally. Both Harvard spokespeople and Harvard police refused to answer questions about the incident, angering one Harvard Medical researcher who said, “I don’t know why it would take two months to announce this.”