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State: All Radioactive Tissue Holders Secured

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- The Westchester County Department of Health confirmed Friday that none of the eight contaminated metal tissue box covers found in two Bed Bath & Beyond stores in Westchester on Thursday had been sold to customers.

The health department visited the two Bed Bath & Beyond stores in Port Chester and in Elmsford on Thursday to confirm that all eight of the covers had been removed from stores.

None of the three other Bed Bath & Beyond stores in the county had received the product, and in collaboration with the Department of Consumer Protection the health department confirmed that the product had not been sold in other retail stores.

The New York State Department of Health and the State Office of Emergency Management notified the county health department on Thursday that the tissue box covers contained traces of Cobalt 60, a radioactive element.

Scrap metal containing Cobalt 60 could have inadvertently been incorporated into the product during smelting, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The products arrived in a shipment from India on Dec. 27 and 220 were distributed to Bed Bath & Beyond stores nationwide, according to the state.

“Nuclear regulatory authorities have assured us these tissue box covers pose no immediate threat to anyone’s health,’’ said Dr. Sherlita Amler, the Westchester Commissioner of Health. “The NRC also told us that the material is believed to be in the tissue cover itself and cannot be inhaled, nor can it contaminate other objects, such as tissues.’’

State agencies worked in coordination with Nassau and Suffolk counties to check additional stores in Huntington Station and Westbury on Long Island, where four additional contaminated tissue box covers had gone.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav R. Shah confirmed that the State Department of Health, the New York Office of Emergency Management and local health officials visited the four stores that received these covers and confirmed that a total of twelve tissue box covers had been secured and removed from the shelves.

"The state health department and other state agencies are working closely with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Bed Bath & Beyond and local health officials to ensure consumers are safe," Shah said.

The state is directing additional questions from customers to Bed Bath & Beyond directly at (800) 462-3966.

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