Lethal doses of Heroin, Fentanyl, and Carfentanil

Posted by mpolkabla On October - 18 - 2017

Comparing the relative size of a lethal dose of Heroin, Fentanyl, and Carfentanil… image from the NH State Police Forensic Laboratory.
As industrial hygiene specialists, BioMax has recently performed sampling assessments of residences following drug busts and has developed effective procedures to successfully decontaminate and mitigate properties contaminated with synthetic opioid residues. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid-based pain killer that is now being widely illegally used by those addicted to opioid pain killers and added to other illicit drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and LSD to increase their effects. Fentanyl is widely known to be 50 times more potent than heroin. The newest synthetic opioid hitting the “market” is called Carfentanil, was originally used as an elephant tranquilizer, and is 100 times more potent than Fentanyl.  In fact, according to toxicology sources, a lethal human dose of Carfentanil is as little as 20 micrograms which is similar in size to only a few grains of salt as seen in the image provided.   According to the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Fentanyl, Carfentanil, Acryfentanyl and now other new and evolving synthetic opioids are coming into this country mainly from China and Canada through mail order sources such as the US Postal service.  Currently such illegal shipments are coming into this country without detection due to the lack of regulation and effective means of screening.

According to current statistics, drug overdoses kill 142 Americans per day…  In fact, this is more than gun homicides and car accidents combined!!!  Since Michael Jackson’s death (known to be linked to a lethal Fentanyl overdose) Fentanyl and other synthetic opioid painkillers are now the leading cause of overdose deaths nationwide, killing more than 20,000 people last year alone.  The increase in numbers is staggering with opioid deaths increasing over 72 percent from 2014 to 2015 according to recently published statistics from the American College of Medical Toxicologists (ACMT).

Even though current regulations do not exist with respect to the cleanup of sites contaminated with fentanyl and synthetic opioid residues, it is now more apparent than ever that those at risk to inadvertent exposures to these highly lethal substances include first responders, law enforcement, DEA and Haz Mat responders.  However, those potentially effected also include innocent bystanders including those who follow these first responder activities, such as cleanup contractors, inspectors, property owners, and even future tenants of these properties.  In the absence of current legislation requiring such cleanup and decontamination of these sites and residences, BioMax has worked with leading expert toxicologists in California and have developed a remediation target goal for the cleanup of residences which have been impacted by fentanyl residues.  This “clearance” criteria level was developed by Ph.D Toxicologists using a Cal/EPA standard exposure algorithm and current toxicological data on Fentanyl.  A surface residue target remediation goal of under 0.1 micrograms per 100 square centimeters (< 0.1 ug/100cm2) has been established and effectively used as a cleanup standard for a recent assessment and cleanup project BioMax managed as overseen by the San Francisco Department of Public Health.  This cleanup standard was specifically developed and intended for use in residential units (apartments, residences, etc.) where reformulation and use of fentanyl powder has resulted in the demonstrated widespread contamination of interior surfaces.  Such residue contamination was verified by BioMax throughout as part of our preliminary site assessment of the noted residence following law enforcement activity and removal of bulk products.

Please feel free to contact us at BioMax Environmental if you would like to review additional information, citations, and/or references on this and similar case studies involving the assessment, decontamination, cleanup, and personal protection (and site controls) required during the performance of such activities.