Fact check: Can you overdose from fentanyl left on shopping carts?

Credit: MGN

(WTVF) -- Investigators across the country have been issuing different warnings about the dangers of opioids.

An Arkansas police department's post warning people to wipe shopping carts prior to touching carts in order to prevent accidental exposure to opiates including fentanyl went viral this week. But, experts were quick to cast doubt on the accuracy of the post.

"Fentanyl or something like that still on their hands and they touch that cart handle and then you do, it can get into your system," the Leachville Police Department posted on Facebook. "Scary but worth taking the time to clean the handle. All you'd have to do is rub your nose or touch your child's mouth. I never even considered this possibility. Children being exposed to just the powder or residue is a bad situation that can turn deadly."

Chad Sabora, one of the founders of the Missouri Network for Opiate Reform and Recovery, told CBS News the chance of someone getting sick -- let alone overdosing -- from residue on a shopping cart is "completely impossible."

"It's just like comparing the HIV epidemic in the 80s when people claimed you could get AIDS from sitting on the toilet," Sabora told CBS News. "This is dangerous to opiate users. Like touching them can kill you? It's not true."

Dr. Christopher Hoyte, associate medical director for the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center and faculty member for the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said he can't say it would never happen, but called it "very improbable."

"I never say never, but it is highly, highly, highly, unlikely someone could become that systemically ill just from having fentanyl touch their skin," Hoyte told CBS News. "It's not absorbed just touching it."

Hoyte said the only way people can feel affects of the drug is if they breathe it in.

Sabora pointed out powdered fentanyl is meant to be snorted or injected.

"Oral absorption taken from fentanyl has minimal impact. It doesn't get into the body that way," Sabora said. "That's why people don't ingest heroin."

The officer responsible for the post issued an apology for the post. He said, "The post about the fentanyl was sent so me from another officer at another Department. I simply shared it. I'm should have checked into it further before I posted it. Sorry for the confusion."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids killed over 33,000 people in 2015. Almost half of the opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription, according to the CDC.