Police apologize for warning about shopping carts and drugs

WFLA - (WFLA) — The Arkansas police department that posted an advisory to wipe down shopping cart handles to avoid contact with the drug Fentanyl has taken down the post and apologized for the information.

The original post by the Leachville Police Department stated that opioids and other similar substances can enter your system from contact with your hands, and recommended using the sanitizing wipes often found at the front of stores to wipe down the handles of shopping carts before you use them.

The post has been removed from the police department's Facebook page.

The Leachville Police Department removed the post, and replaced it with one stating, "The post about the Fentanyl was sent so (sic) me from another officer at another Department. I simply shared it. I'm (sic) should have checked into it further before I posted it. Sorry for the confusion."

Exposure to Fentanyl can be extremely dangerous, especially for children. Earlier this year, a 10-year-old Miami boy died after coming into contact with the drug.

Exposure to fentanyl can be extremely dangerous, especially for children. In September a 12-year-old  Columbus boy died after coming into contact with the drug.

However, there's no scientific evidence to prove that touching trace amounts of Fentanyl can cause the drug to enter a person's system and cause an overdose.

In June of 2017, the Drug Enforcement Administration briefed first responders on the risk of Fentanyl and advised that touching the drugs could post a danger to EMS and law enforcement workers. However, the DEA walked back the statement in July, 2017, after the American College of Medical Toxicology issued a new position statement on the drug stating that "incidental dermal absorption is unlikely to cause opioid toxicity." It called the risk of first responders overdosing from touch alone "extremely low."

Also, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, potential exposure of the greatest concern include inhalation, mucous membrane contact, ingestion, and percutaneous exposure (e.g., needlestick). Skin contact is also a potential exposure route, but is not likely to lead to overdose unless large volumes of highly concentrated powder are encountered over an extended period of time.  Brief skin contact with Fentanyl or similar drugs is not expected to lead to toxic effects if any visible contamination is promptly removed.

Additionally, the DEA warns against using alcohol-based sanitizers (which applies to shopping cart wipes) to remove Fentanyl for fear that this could make skin more susceptible to absorbing the drug.

Chris Hoyt, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado hospital to KUSA that while one milligram of fentanyl in its powder form is enough to cause an overdose, the chances of a person coming in contact with the drug in a space like a grocery store are very slim.

"If you just happen to walk by them, it's very, very, very unlikely that you're going to get sick that way," Hoyt said.

Lt. Scott Reed from the Multi-County Narcotics and Violent Crimes Unit tells WKYC, if someone had enough fentanyl in their system to the point where it would transfer from their skin, they would probably be unconscious or dead. Reed says they would probably be too high to get out of their car, grab a cart, and go shopping.

WFLA spoke to Dr. Alfred Aleguas, of the Florida Poison Control Center, who says that there is a danger when it comes to shopping carts: germs. So, go ahead and grab a wipe to help fend off the common cold or flu.

WCMH contributed to this report.

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