Experts clarify possibility of overdosing from fentanyl on shopping carts

After a police department posted warnings to wipe shopping carts down to avoid exposure, experts weighed in on the accuracy of the claim

By EMS1 Staff

LEACHVILLE, Ark. — After a police department warned Facebook users about the dangers of overdosing on fentanyl left behind on shopping carts, experts quickly negated the claims.

CBS News reported that a Facebook post by the Leachville Police Department warned grocery shoppers to wipe down their carts, or they face danger of overdosing on fentanyl left behind on the handle.

The post, which has since been deleted, read:

"You know when you go to Wal-Mart and they have the wipes to clean your cart handle? How many of you don't use them? Well I do and I always thought of the germs only. Was told today that the police chief also suggests you do it because of all the problems with drugs nowadays and if they have fentanyl or something like that still on their hands and they touch that cart handle and then you do, it can get into your system. Scary, but worth taking the time to clean the handle. All you'd have to do is rub your nose or touch your child's mouth. I never even considered this possibility. Children being exposed to just the powder or residue is a bad situation that can turn deadly."

Experts were quick to weigh in. Missouri Network for Opiate Reform and Recovery founder Chad Sabora said the chances of overdosing from shopping cart residue is “completely impossible.”

"It's just like comparing the HIV epidemic in the 80s when people claimed you could get AIDS from sitting on the toilet," Sabora said. "This is dangerous to opiate users. Like touching them can kill you? It's not true."

Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center medical director Dr. Christopher Hoyte said that while he can’t call the situation “impossible,” it is “very improbable.”

"I never say never, but it is highly, highly, highly, unlikely someone could become that systemically ill just from having fentanyl touch their skin," Hoyte said. "It's not absorbed just touching it. I will say if they touched it and then rubbed their nose and breathed it in through that way that would be a possibility.”

The police department originally linked its claims to the DEA’s first responder guidelines for fentanyl encounters, but the DEA emphasized that the manual was not meant for the public.

The department issued an apology on Facebook.


The post about the fentanyl was sent so me from another officer at another Department. I simply shared it. I’m should have checked into it further before I posted it. Sorry for the confusion

Posted by Leachville Police Department on Thursday, November 9, 2017


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