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Mitigating Emergency Responder Occupational Exposure Risks to Fentanyl

The Board for Global EHS Credentialing® (BGC®) reminds emergency responders and employers of the need to address potential exposure risks to fentanyl and other health and safety hazards inherent in the profession.

Lansing, MI – WEBWIRE

While workers in a number of occupations could come across fentanyl, NIOSH has identified four job categories that are at high risk of exposure.

Emergency responders are faced with a myriad of challenges that unfortunately now includes potential exposure to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. The growing use and abuse of pharmaceutical fentanyl and clandestinely produced versions of the drug are creating hazards for those called upon to respond to emergencies where these illicit drugs are used, transported, stored, or distributed.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, are now the most common drugs involved in deaths due to drug overdoses in the United States. Fentanyl is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which is a key reason why it is being encountered so frequently by emergency responders.
In response to the growing risk of exposure, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has recently published information and released a video specifically aimed at emergency responders. Illicit Drugs, Including Fentanyl – Preventing Occupational Exposure to Emergency Responders is a 13+ minute video that was produced with the police and fire departments from Fredericksburg, Virginia. It highlights a real case where emergency responders encountered fentanyl and suffered from exposure. It also offers important information about safe work practices to protect against coming into contact with this powerful drug.
“While workers in a number of occupations could come across fentanyl, NIOSH has identified four job categories that are at high risk of exposure,” said Dirk Yamamoto, PhD, CIH® and Chair of the Board for Global EHS Credentialing®. “These include workers in law enforcement, pre-hospital patient care, investigation and evidence handling, and special operations and decontamination. Potential exposure routes of greatest concern include inhalation, mucous membrane contact, ingestion, and percutaneous exposure.”
Available to assist agencies, institutions, and companies in their efforts to safeguard emergency responders from exposure risks to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIHs). These professionals are trained to identify and mitigate occupational and community exposure hazards. CIHs are knowledgeable and experienced in workplace assessments, air sampling, risk analysis, chemical hazards, toxicology, personal protective equipment, and engineering controls. These and other core competencies that are central components of the Certified Industrial Hygienist® credential are critical for establishing and maintaining a safe and healthy work environment for emergency responders.
To learn more about the Certified Industrial Hygienist® credential, visit or to locate a CIH® to perform industrial hygiene services, please email a request to .  For information about the Qualified Environmental Professional® credential or Environmental Professional In-Training® (EPI®) designation, visit or email .  Please call (517) 321-2638 for questions about BGC® or its credentials and designations.
About the Board for Global EHS Credentialing ®
Since 1960, the American Board of Industrial Hygiene® (ABIH®), a not-for-profit corporation, has been the world’s largest organization for certifying professionals in the practice of industrial hygiene. In 2019, ABIH® created a new, high-level organizational umbrella called the Board for Global EHS Credentialing® (BGC®) to more accurately reflect its enhanced credential offerings, which include the Certified Industrial Hygienist® (CIH®), Qualified Environmental Professional® (QEP®), Environmental Professional In-Training® (EPI®), and a Product Stewardship credential, which is currently in development. Currently, more than 7,600 people around the world hold the CIH® credential, QEP® credential, or EPI® designation. 

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 Emergency Responder
 Industrial Hygiene

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