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Workers in Certain Occupations in Puerto Rico at Increased Risk of Fentanyl Exposure

Zimmetry Environmental provides environmental and industrial hygiene testing services to identify and mitigate potential occupational exposures from a wide range of hazardous substances.

Bayamon, Puerto Rico – WEBWIRE

Each time emergency responders are called to a drug overdose they could be at risk of exposure through inhalation, mucous membrane contact, ingestion and even percutaneous exposure.

The National Center for Health Statistics reports that as recently as 2017, there were over 70,200 drug overdose deaths in the United States. The agency also states that the rate of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (drugs such as fentanyl, fentanyl analogs and tramadol) increased by 45% between 2016 and 2017.
According to a PBS News Hour article from earlier this year, fentanyl-related deaths and overdoses in Puerto Rico have also been rising dramatically. The investigative report found that as recently as 2017, 600 fentanyl-related overdoses and 60 deaths were reported across the commonwealth.
These dramatic numbers highlight the dangers of fentanyl. The drug is an astounding 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine reports the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). With the rapid rise of fentanyl abuse, this drug is now also putting law enforcement, emergency responders, customs agents, border security and even postal employees at ever increasing risk of accidental exposure to this powerful and deadly synthetic opioid.
In response, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently provided new information specifically aimed at emergency responders. Illicit Drugs, Including Fentanyl – Preventing Occupational Exposure to Emergency Responders is a 13+ minute video that was produced with police and fire departments. The video highlights a case where emergency responders encountered fentanyl and suffered from exposure. The video and supporting documentation also provides important information about safe work practices to protect against coming into contact with this dangerous drug and other synthetic opioids.
“Unfortunately, today each time emergency responders are called to a drug overdose they could be at risk of exposure through inhalation, mucous membrane contact, ingestion and even percutaneous exposure,” said Harry Pena, President of Zimmetry Environmental. “The risk is also there for law enforcement, customs, border patrol, Coast Guard, and even postal workers and employees of private package delivery companies that might have unexpected contact with a drug so powerful that only a miniscule amount could cause a life-threatening reaction. At Zimmetry, we offer industrial hygiene and environmental testing and consulting services to identify hazardous substances in the workplace and in the built environment. Our experts provide these services in Puerto Rico and across the Caribbean.”
To learn more about this or other occupational, indoor air quality (IAQ), building science, environmental, or compliance testing and consulting services, please visit, call (787) 995.0005 or email .
About Zimmetry Environmental
Since 2002, Zimmetry Environmental has been providing environmental consulting services to building owners and managers, architects, engineers, EHS professionals, and Fortune 500 companies. The company is based in Puerto Rico and provides services across the Caribbean and Central America. The professionals at Zimmetry offer environmental compliance, indoor air quality, asbestos, lead-based paint, Phase I ESAs, and general environmental consulting services.

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 Puerto Rico
 Industrial Hygiene
 Emergency Responder

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