Several prison guards in Alberta have been hospitalized after accidental exposure to fentanyl during searches, and their union is concerned the next incident could be fatal.

In July, seven guards at two institutions were exposed to the highly toxic drug, and three of them were hospitalized after receiving Narcan, a medicine used to treat opioid overdoses, the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers says. 

Fentanyl is so potent, a dose the size of a grain or two of sand can be fatal. Adding to the potential danger for prison staff, the union says, is the fact fentanyl is often mixed with other drugs and can be inhaled accidentally or absorbed through the skin, CBC reports.

In June, officers intercepted a shipment of fentanyl worth $13,000 destined for an Edmonton Institution inmate.

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