Recently, a police officer in Hawaii had to self-administer a dose of Narcan after feeling ill when responding to an overdose call. According to media reports, the officer feared she had been exposed to fentanyl.

Fentanyl is increasingly being found in states all across the country. In June of this year, the Hawaii Police Department issued a warning to the public about the dangers of illicit fentanyl. In their media release, the department stated it was seeing an increase in the amount of fentanyl being recovered in conjunction with recent drug investigations.

Since fentanyl and other illicit drugs come in many forms, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) warns that emergency responders can come into contact with them by:

  • Breathing (Inhalation)
  • Eating (Ingestion)
  • Touching eyes, nose or mouth with contaminated hands or gloves or when illicit drugs come into contact with the eyes, nose or mouth directly (Mucosal)
  • Liquid illicit drugs may be absorbed by the skin (Dermal)
  • Being stuck by a needle (Percutaneous)

“It’s not unusual for emergency responders and workers in other occupations to come across an unknown substance,” said Joe Frasca, Senior Vice President of Marketing at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “If that substance turns out to be fentanyl, or another dangerous drug, they could be putting their lives at risk. To help in these situations, EMSL Analytical provides drug and unknown substance testing services. Our scientists can identify fentanyl, methamphetamine, heroin, ecstasy, cocaine, THC, MDMA, LSD and other illicit drugs. Test results can be instrumental in making sure dangerous substances are handled and disposed of properly.”

Several years ago, EMSL sponsored an educational video about fentanyl and potential occupational exposure that can still be seen at:

To learn more about fentanyl or other illicit drug, industrial hygiene, environmental, health and safety testing services, please visit, email or call (800) 220-3675.

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