Countering Misinformation About Exposure To Fentanyl By First Responders

"Concerns about fentanyl exposure continue to spread despite a clear consensus from medical experts that overdose from incidental skin contact is a medical impossibility [14, 15]. Indeed, this claim has been officially debunked by the American College of Medical Toxicology and the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology [16] and the National Occupational Safety and Health with the CDC [26]. A drug policy advocate has also disproven this myth by holding fentanyl powder in his hand without consequence and widely circulating the internet footage [15]. Researchers who study reported overdoses from fentanyl exposure among emergency responders have explained that cases documented thus far can best be attributed to the “nocebo effect”—a phenomenon in which individuals believe they have encountered a toxic substance and therefore experience the expected symptoms of exposure [27]. This is consistent with our broader understanding of occupational wellness and mental health—or lack thereof—among first responders [28]. When individuals are already operating under acute stress and with few mental health reserves, fear of overdose from touching fentanyl could serve as an additional stressor."

Source: 

Winograd, R. P., Phillips, S., Wood, C. A., Green, L., Costerison, B., Goulka, J., & Beletsky, L. (2020). Training to reduce emergency responders' perceived overdose risk from contact with fentanyl: early evidence of success. Harm reduction journal, 17(1), 58. doi.org/10.1186/s12954-020-00402-2.