Via The Guardian: 'Dose as small as a grain of sand can kill you': alarm after Canada carfentanil bust. Excerpt and then a comment:
It was a carbon monoxide alarm that brought the Canadian authorities to the house in Liatris Drive, a quiet residential street lined with manicured gardens. As firefighters checked over the house to ensure its inhabitants were safe, something else caught their eye: kilograms of a mysterious powder sitting in the basement.
Soon afterwards, the police arrived at the house in Pickering, near Toronto, with a search warrant. They seized 33 identical handguns – and 53kg of the unidentified white and yellow powder.
Lab tests eventually revealed 42kg of the substance to be carfentanil – a drug the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has described as “crazy dangerous” and which authorities in the US have flagged as as potential chemical weapon. The local police force had unwittingly stumbled across what is believed to be the largest volume of the opioid ever seized in North America.
Developed in the 1970s as a tranquilizer for large animals such as elephants and bears, the synthetic opioid has also been studied as a potential chemical weapon by countries including the US, China and Israel. It is thought to have been deployed with disastrous effects when Russian special forces attempted to rescue hundreds of hostages from a Moscow theatre in 2002.
But it only burst into public view last year after officials across North America began to warn that it was being cut with heroin and other illicit drugs, leaving a rash of overdoses and deaths in its wake.
“An amount as small as a grain of sand can kill you,” Dr Karen Grimsrud, Alberta’s chief medical officer, told reporters after traces of carfentanil were found in the bodies of two men who had overdosed. “Carfentanil is about 100 times more toxic than fentanyl and about 10,000 times more toxic than morphine.”
Authorities in Cincinnati said the drug was one possible explanation for why 174 people in the US city had overdosed in the span of six days. Dealers were now cutting carfentanil into heroin and other drugs to offer users a hard-hitting, longer-lasting high, officials said as they scrambled to shore up supplies of the antidote. While it often takes just one or two shots of naloxone to counteract a heroin overdose, overdoses involving carfentanil can take half a dozen shots or more.
Apart from the sheer quantity of carfentanil involved, what scares me about this story is the potential threat to first responders—especially the firefighters.