TUCSON, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - One police department in Arizona has become the go-to agency when it comes to analyzing and fighting the opioid epidemic.

Being double gloved, wearing a lab coat, having eye protection and having a full face respirator are must-haves in the Tucson Police Department's crime laboratory while conducting drug analysis.

[TIMELINE: Emergence of the opioid crisis]

"You just don't know. I mean people are putting it in everything so you don't know that it's in there. You can't see it. It doesn't have an odor so it's not easy for somebody to detect," said forensic chemist Megan Green.

Fentanyl has changed the game. Green said she has to be extra cautious at all times now because even exposed to a little of the opioid is dangerous.

[RELATED: Arizona officers using Narcan to save overdose victims]

"It takes only the size of a grain of salt-worth of fentanyl to potentially cause an overdose death," said Green.

And because it's so deadly, lab workers are now forced to stock the drug Narcan to block the effects of opioids in case one of them comes into contact with fentanyl.

The Tucson Police Department crime lab is now at the forefront in analyzing and fighting opioids, and they help other agencies, too. Officers said other agencies come to use their lab because they can get a two-hour turnaround to determine whether or not something is fentanyl.

[SPECIAL SECTION: The Fentanyl Crisis]

But all those safety measures extend into the streets where officers have an even high chance of coming across fentanyl.

The crime lab workers go out to each of the teams and restock officers Narco-pouches.

[RELATED: Mom who pushed for Narcan law upset some officers don't carry antidote]

Their updated protocols have now been successful in saving lives.

One of the major problems? Fentanyl is being found in everything.

Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin but as it continues to flood the streets, there's a strong warning for the public.

[RELATED: The good, the bad and the ugly: The need for Fentanyl]

According to Tucson police, one of their biggest areas of concern is college campuses.

They've seen pills, which are supposed to be Adderall, a popular drug students use to help them study, laced with fentanyl. Officers said many of them don't know they're taking an opioid at all.


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.



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