City departments warn public about ‘rainbow fentanyl’ pills and powders

One incident involving an adult male occurred on Island.

Mercer Island Youth and Family Services (YFS), along with the US Drug Enforcement Administration and copious other organizations, is warning the public about a new kind of dangerous fentanyl product, called “rainbow fentanyl,” that has been circulating in the region.

The pills, powders and blocks resemble sidewalk chalk and candy, according to YFS Administrator Tambi Cork, who added that they want to apprise parents and kids of their existence since the potential for accidental exposure has tremendously increased.

A letter posted on the Mercer Island School District site on Sept. 16 noted that the Mercer Island Police Department (MIPD) “recently had to administer naloxone, which can reverse an overdose, to an adult male who had overdosed on ‘rainbow fentanyl.’” Officers used a Narcan nasal spray application to successfully revive the man, said Cork, who added that this incident has spurred YFS to inform the community of the presence of the pills on the Island.

Cork said that YFS knows that pill and powder use on the Island is not prevalent amongst its youngest population.

“But given that fentanyl has such a high potential for tragedy, it’s something that we have leaned into in terms of our communications, because one exposure can be enough for an overdose or for a death,” Cork added.

YFS has assembled crucial information about the dangers of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, and the MIPD noted, “Please read up and then engage in very direct and open conversation with your kids so we can save lives.”

People can visit for information about the King County Laced and Lethal campaign that YFS joined through its Healthy Youth Initiative beginning in March of 2021.

The fentanyl overdose prevention campaign targets youth and young adults in the region and receives primary funding from the Behavioral Health and Recovery Division (BHRD). A previous Reporter article stated that in addition to informing people about the risk of buying pills and powders potentially laced with fentanyl, the research-based campaign focuses on the life-saving benefits of having access to naloxone, according to Kelli Nomura, director of the BHRD.

YFS wants to alert parents and young people that pills or powders not prescribed to them by a pharmacy could potentially be laced with fentanyl. In addition to vital information that YFS has available for the community, the organization’s high school prevention clubs educate students at least once annually about how to protect themselves from fentanyl. They also delve into the state’s Good Samaritan Law where individuals can call 911 if they’re in a situation where someone is overdosing and not face legal consequences.

Narcan nasal spray, which is the most dispensed naloxone brand, is on site at Mercer Island High School and Islander Middle School, the letter noted. The letter was collaboratively written by Cork, MIPD Chief Ed Holmes and school district Superintendent Fred Rundle.

For more information about fentanyl, visit the Drug Enforcement Administration’s website at