In 2023, the drug overdose epidemic continues to worsen in the United States and remains a leading cause of injury-related death. The majority of overdose deaths involve opioids. In addition, overdose deaths accelerated since the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s important to understand what fentanyl is, and understand why protecting yourself from it is critical. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug that is highly potent and can be deadly even in small doses. It is used for medical purposes such as pain management, anesthesia, and as a treatment for opioid addiction. Unfortunately, fentanyl has been widely abused as a recreational drug and is often mixed with other drugs, to increase their potency. Because of the risk of fentanyl, its distribution, and prescriptions are limited. However, it is often created in illegal laboratories in pill and powder form and mixed with other safe drugs which increases the risk further.
Overview of This Drug:
- Potency: Fentanyl is estimated to be 50-100 times stronger than morphine and 30-50 times stronger than heroin. This potency makes it very effective for pain management and anesthesia but also increases the risk of overdose and death.
- Medical Uses: Fentanyl is used medically as a pain reliever, especially for patients with chronic pain who need a strong painkiller. It is also used as an anesthetic before surgery, and as a medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction.
- Illicit Use: Fentanyl is often abused as a recreational drug, either by itself or mixed with other drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, or benzodiazepines. This is particularly dangerous as the potency of Fentanyl increases the risk of overdose and death, even in small doses.
- Overdose: Fentanyl can cause respiratory depression and death from overdose. The symptoms of a fentanyl overdose include shallow breathing, cold and clammy skin, blue or purple lips and nails, and loss of consciousness. Naloxone, an opioid antagonist, is an effective treatment for reversing an opioid overdose, but repeated doses may be necessary, especially in cases of a fentanyl overdose.
- Regulation: In the United States, fentanyl is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance, indicating that it has a high potential for abuse and dependence, but also has a recognized medical use. This classification also restricts its prescription and distribution.
- Production: Fentanyl is often produced in illegal laboratories, which makes its purity and potency highly unpredictable. This further increases the risk of overdose and death, especially for people who use it recreationally.
Because of its deadliness and regulation, it is important for first responders, healthcare professionals, or even police officers that can be exposed to fentanyl to properly equip themselves with quality PPE products such as nitrile gloves. However not all nitrile gloves were designed to protect against fentanyl, which makes it important to understand which nitrile glove is best for the situation.
How Do I Know Which Nitrile Gloves Are Fentanyl Rated?
The CDC and NIOSH have released an SOP as well as PPE requirements for handling fentanyl for responders. A nitrile glove is considered fentanyl resistant if it is made with a thicker material (5 mil +/-. 2 mil) to the palm and has a higher puncture resistance compared to standard nitrile gloves. This helps to prevent the penetration of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, through the glove material and into the user’s skin. Additionally, some nitrile gloves are treated with a special coating to further enhance their resistance to fentanyl and other dangerous substances.
Defender Safety’s Recommendations
To reduce the risk of Fentanyl exposure, Defender Safety recommends the following:
- Ensure that the nitrile gloves have a palm thickness of at least 5 mil
- The performance of the gloves is third-party tested such as Intertek or equivalent
- Gloves have either chemical or chemo-rated resistance to meet the ASTM D6978 chemo-rated testing. Provides at least 240 minutes of resistance against the top 10 chemo-rated drugs (See test report for more details)
We recommend having a thickness greater than 5 mil, but not greater than 7. This will provide sufficient protection without compromising dexterity. We also recommend that the gloves are third-party tested with an accredited test facility. This helps to ensure that the test reports are impartial. Finally, we recommend that the gloves have resistance against chemo-therapy drugs or chemical resistance. While not mandatory, having resistance to chemo-therapy drugs is a good indicator in determining the performance of the gloves.
For situations like these, we recommend using the Defender Safety 6 mil heavy-duty black nitrile gloves. It provides a thicker material, without compromising dexterity which is ideal in situations where grip and protection are required. It also comes powder free and is touch-screen sensitive to boost safety and productivity. To learn more about the 6 mil heavy-duty nitrile glove, hit the shop now button.