A package mailed to Sen. John Glenn contained racist rhetoric and a mysterious powder that discolored and numbed the hands of three workers. A similar package was sent to Sen. James Jeffords, but the suspicious substance was noticed before it hurt anyone.

The packages, mailed from Vermont, arrived Monday at Glenn's office in Columbus, Ohio, and Jeffords' in Burlington, Vt. A spokesman for Jeffords in Washington said the same person apparently sent the two packages and the letters containing racial and ethnic slurs.In Columbus, the incident also forced the evacuation of the downtown federal building. Glenn's office was back open Tuesday, and the three employees were expected to return to work later in the day.

Erik Smulson, Jeffords' spokesman in Washington, said staff noticed a "questionable black material" when the package sent to the Vermont Republican's office was opened. The inner package containing the material was not opened; the material instead was turned over to the police.

"It is our understanding that the letters are the same and are from the same person," Smulson said.

Deputy Fire Chief Ned Pettus said the unidentified substance turned the Glenn aides' hands a purplish color and made them numb for several hours.