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DEA agent: fentanyl not just a problem for drug users


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SALT LAKE CITY— After the fatal accidental overdose of a 10-year-old boy in Florida, the Drug Enforcement Agency and Salt Lake Metro Narcotics Task Force is warning communities about the serious dangers of coming in contact with designer street drugs.

“Accidental exposures seem to be increasing in number and in regularity and that worries us,” said DEA supervisory special agent Brian Besser. “We need to be scared about this.”

There have been several major synthetic opioid operation drug busts in unassuming suburbs in the Salt Lake Valley over the last year, a trend Besser said will “probably not be the last one we encounter.”

With this alarming trend comes a new danger, accidental exposure to the deadly compound fentanyl.

“We have to be very, very astute and very, very observant to our day-to-day dealing in touching things,” Besser said. “These needles in these small items of garbage on the street could easily be contaminated.

Just a small amount of fentanyl can be deadly.

“(Fentynal) can easily be absorbed in the skin transdermally. It can be ingested, it can be inhaled,” Besser said. “We're dealing with drugs that are absolutely lethal in micrograms and milligrams.”

Besser asks the public to be cautious as well as to talk to children about what they touch outside.

“Be cautious. Talk to your kids about what to pick up outside and what not to,” he said.

Anyone who thinks they've come in contact with a suspicious substance on the street should not use hand sanitizer, as it can increase absorption. Besser said to instead use soapy water and call 911 immediately.

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Nicole Vowell

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