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Protecting First Responders from Opioid Exposure

Posted: Oct. 21, 2021

New fentanyl detection standards will protect first responders in the field.

One alarming aspect of the opioid crisis is the frequency first responders encounter synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Fentanyl and related compounds present a safety hazard for first responders — including emergency medical and law enforcement personnel at all levels — if they are not adequately prepared with proper protective equipment and reliable detection.

In response, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) funded and provided subject matter expertise for development of 3 standards for detection of fentanyl and fentanyl-related compounds in the field. These standards promote the protection of those on the frontline of the opioid crisis through a specification, guide and test method for field detection equipment:

  • ASTM E3243-21 Standard Specification for Field Detection Equipment and Assays Used for Fentanyl and Fentanyl-Related Compounds.
  • ASTM E3289-21 Standard Guide for Using Equipment and Assays for Field Detection of Fentanyl and Fentanyl-Related Compounds.
  • ASTM E3290-21 Standard Test Method for Establishing Performance of Equipment and Assays for Field Detection of Fentanyl-Related Compounds.

These 3 new standards, published in July 2021 by ASTM International, will be put into effect almost immediately through a DHS S&T-led research and development effort with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. They will be used to support collection of reference spectra to build out instrument libraries for approximately 50 Drug Enforcement Agency controlled substances including fentanyl, fentanyl analogues and other emerging synthetic drugs.

These standards will help increase operational efficiency and responder safety by giving first responders the ability to identify fentanyl, its analogs and other synthetic drugs through use of standardized methods, reliable equipment, and a centralized, accurate reference library.

This article is based on content in the
Oct. 21, 2021 InfoGram.

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