The recent rise in the illicit trade of highly toxic synthetic drugs such as fentanyl has introduced a new set of potential health hazards to the forensic laboratory. Proper management of this employee health risk can be extremely challenging considering that there are currently no established regulatory guidelines and few published studies on forensic laboratory drug exposures.
The primary goal of this presentation is to provide an overview of the current body of knowledge and a set of available best practices to aid forensic laboratory leadership in managing their risk. This will be accomplished by addressing the following topics:
- An overview of the known health hazards associated with occupational exposures to hazardous drugs.
- A review and discussion of several important ongoing research efforts by state and federal agencies. These include studies of background drug residues in forensic labs conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, human exposure studies conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and decontamination studies conducted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
- A review of accepted industrial hygiene principles and concepts that can limit employee exposures to a wide range of hazardous materials. These include laboratory and equipment design, best work practices, and the use of personal protective equipment.
- An introduction to practical methods for identifying the presence of hazardous drug residues within the forensic laboratory.
- A review of the gaps in knowledge and issues requiring further investigation.
Detailed Learning Objectives:
- An understanding of the known risks associated with the handling of hazardous drugs.
- A practical framework for the assessment, development, and improvement of laboratory safety systems.
- An understanding of additional research needed to better understand occupational drug exposures risks.
Funding for this Forensic Technology Center of Excellence event has been provided by the National Institute of Justice.