Volume 37, Issue 4 (July 1992)
Occupational Exposure to Cocaine Involving Crime Lab Personnel
The possibility of exposure to cocaine as a result of analyzing it or handling material contaminated by it has been a major concern of laboratory personnel. Several different work environments and simulated situations were examined to assess the likelihood of this type of exposure occurring. Urine specimens were collected and evaluated for cocaine and benzoylecgonine using the Syva ETS System (EMIT). Each specimen was analyzed for the two substances using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). Urine specimens of laboratory-management personnel not working with drug samples showed no trace of cocaine or benzoylecgonine. A urinary benzoylecgonine level of 227 ng/mL was found in the specimen from one narcotics criminalist who was working on a routine case of 2 kilos of cocaine hydrochloride in the Narcotics Laboratory. A maximal urinary benzoylecgonine concentration of 1570 ng/mL was determined in the urine specimen from one narcotics criminalist who was sampling a case containing 50 kilos of cocaine hydrochloride over a period of 3 h. Decreasing the levels of airborne cocaine dust appears to minimize the amount of cocaine absorbed by the criminalists. Gloves, face masks, and goggles prove to be effective in minimizing exposure.