Illinois Officials Warn of Colorful ‘Rainbow Fentanyl' Reported in 18 States

The substance has been spotted as pills, powder and blocks in vibrant colors in recent months

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Officials from the Drug Enforcement Administration and Illinois Department of Public Health are warning of fentanyl appearing in bright colors, sometimes resembling sidewalk chalk or candy.

The fentanyl has been found by law enforcement officials in 18 different states, with the vibrantly colored synthetic opioid appearing in the form of pills, powder and blocks. Law enforcement officials speculate that this is a tactic to market the substance to children and teens.

Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids contributed to two-thirds of America's 107,622 drug overdose deaths in 2021. The potency of fentanyl poses a significant risk, with the drug being 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine on average.

For individuals without a tolerance to opioids, a dose of just two milligrams, equivalent to 10 to 15 grains of table salt, can be deadly. Officials warn that without laboratory testing, there is no way to determine how much fentanyl is present in a sample.

According to Illinois health officials, the rainbow-colored fentanyl was confirmed to be found in the following states by Sept. 1:

  • California
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • Idaho
  • Arizona
  • North Carolina
  • West Virginia
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Missouri

At the beginning of this month, Illinois health officials considered the alert to be at a "low" level and did not confirm at the time if any of the rainbow-colored fentanyl had been seized in the state. State health officials have not addressed the presence of the drug since original alert on Sept. 1.

According to the DEA, the fentanyl was seized in 18 states throughout August 2022, but did not specify which states the drug had been found in.

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