Fentanyl Safety Considerations - MOSH
Fentanyl exposure is concerning. Maryland Occupational Safety and Health stands with Governor Hogan in his efforts to fight the epidemic, and wants to make certain working Marylanders are protected and safe. To that end, we urge caution from our first responders when they are on a call that may involve drug exposure, and recommend they follow their unit's advice to wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE's).
For more information on Fentanyl and best practices to employ when facing possible drug exposure, visit the links below.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. It is a schedule II prescription drug, and it is typically used to treat patients with severe pain or to manage pain after surgery. It is also sometimes used to treat patients with chronic pain who are physically tolerant to other opioids.
What you should do in case of Fentanyl Exposure?
Because any suspected drug may contain powerful opioids such as Fentanyl, handling illicit substances in any capacity is inherently hazardous. Proper handling of suspected drug samples is essential to keeping yourself, your co-workers, your family members and the general public safe.
Recommendations for First Responders
Accidental exposure by first responders is a real danger. Accidental exposure can occur under a number of circumstances, including during the execution of search or arrest warrants, the purchase of fentanyl during undercover operations, the processing of drug evidence containing fentanyl or fentanyl‐related substances, or the processing of non‐drug evidence (e.g., drug proceeds, pill presses, scales, or drug paraphernalia) which may be contaminated with these substances.
New Screening Techniques to Prevent Fentanyl Exposure
Scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are working to address this hazard. In a paper published in Forensic Chemistry, they report that two technologies, Ion Mobility Spectrometry (IMS) and Direct Analysis in Real Time Mass Spectrometry (DART-MS), can detect trace amounts of fentanyl even when mixed with heroin and other substances.
Other States Postings:
- Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services – New York
- First Responder Safety Bulletin
- Public health & safety advisory on fentanyl - State of Tennessee
- “Fentanyl: The Next Wave of the Opioid Crisis” - Executive Office of the President – March 21, 2017
- Fentanyl: A Complex and Expanding Threat in the United States - Maryland DRE Resource Site
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