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What parents need to know about fentanyl, and its even stronger cousin carfentanil

How powerful are they, and what should you do if you come across fentanyl or carfentanil?

HARTFORD, Conn. — The opioid epidemic, unfortunately, is nothing new, but after a 13-year-old died of a fentanyl overdose while at his Hartford school, many parents may be paying closer attention to the deadly drug for the first time. 

Why fentanyl is so dangerous?  According to Dr. Joseph Podolski, the Chief Medical Officer for the Root Center for Advanced Recovery in Manchester, when compared to other street drugs, fentanyl is both relatively easy to make and incredibly powerful, so powerful that it dwarfs the strength of even other opioids.

“If you look at the relative strength of morphine for example and say the relative strength is a one, then fentanyl would be 100 times stronger than morphine,” he said.

RELATED: 13-year-old Hartford student who came into contact with fentanyl has died, officials say

For comparison, Podolski said heroin is only about five times stronger than morphine.

However, fentanyl isn’t the most powerful opioid known. Podolski said it has an even stronger cousin, carfentanil, that, unlike fentanyl, doesn’t have a legitimate medical use for humans.

“Carfentanil is a colorless, odorless synthetic opioid,” he said, “it is used basically in veterinary medicine, commonly called elephant tranquilizer.”

“Carfentanil is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, or 10,000 times more potent than morphine,” Dr. Podolski said.

He said it often shows up mixed in with other street drugs.

RELATED: Hartford considering expanded Narcan access in the wake of teen's fatal fentanyl overdose

So, what should you do if you think you’ve come across fentanyl or carfentanil? How dangerous is it to touch it, or inhale it?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin, but it’s very inefficient, requiring an exposure lasting at least hours. 

Here are the precautions Podolski suggested:

“It can be using gloves to prevent any contact exposure but really, first and foremost, you want to prevent any inhalation or exposure to your eyes because that will create much more of a significant effect,” Dr. Podolski said.

Should you find any in your house, he said to leave it where it is, get everyone out of the room, and call the police.

RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Chief State's Attorney proposing tougher drug penalties in the wake of fatal fentanyl overdose of Hartford teen

Tim Lammers is an anchor at FOX61 News. He can be reached at Tlammers@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


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