Meth Use or Production Indicators
Clandestine drug labs are found throughout the country. Methamphetamine is "cooked" in storage units, homes, hotel/motel rooms, apartments, boats, and mobile homes. After a drug laboratory bust, law enforcement and the DEA work to remove bulk chemicals and apparatus from the production site. However, residual contamination will likely remain because the hazardous chemicals that are used to make meth can cause contamination of porous surfaces, heating units and furnishings. In many cases, new occupants moving into former drug labs are unaware of the problem.
Methamphetamine smells heavy and sickeningly sweet. Once you smell it, you likely won't forget it. The residual smell has been compared to nail polish remover (acetone), burning plastic, dead animals (stays in your nose), rotten eggs and of course, cat urine. The smell differs because there are several different methods to cook meth each using different hazardous chemicals. Please note: meth production or meth use doesn’t always leave smells behind. It depends on the type of cook, duration, amount of cooking or meth use, and property ventilation.
Can you see meth residue? You may witness dark red phosphorous stains in the toilets, sinks, bathtubs, or red staining on the counters, walls and floors. You may also may also see signs of chemical burns and spills.
The manufacture of methamphetamine in homes constitutes a serious and growing exponential environmental problem in the US. Illegal drugs are manufactured out of easy to buy materials and equipment and require little to no training of the basic chemistry needed to produce a harmful, illegal drug. How do you know whether or not your home was used as a drug house or used to manufacture methamphetamine?
First, check with your local agencies: health department, drug task force, or your community policing service to see if your address is on a contaminated property listing or is a known drug site. Then and most importantly, test for methamphetamine residue.
Structures used to make meth will normally have containers of of harmful materials like ether, solvents, phosphorus, paint thinners, bases and acids, or anhydrous ammonia. Other laboratory equipment, storage or cooking containers, or heating sources may also be present. Typically, a hazmat crew will remove the bulk of any production-related debris such as containers and chemicals after a lab is discovered by law enforcement. However, small residues of chemicals may have contaminated surfaces, drains, sinks, ventilation systems and absorbent materials (clothing, carpets, furniture, etc.). The drug lab contaminants may pose serious health threats to persons exposed to them.
You may witness suspicious behavior that indicate illegal activity is taking place inside a residence. You might see individuals act paranoid, not leave the house for extended periods, have frequent nighttime visitors and they may take their garbage elsewhere. Meth producers will often have extensive security systems, keep out and no trespassing signs and guard dogs.
Perform due diligence on any suspect property. Check the National Registry, Health Department (normally the Environmental Health Program) listings and call your local law enforcement representative. For information on children at risk in meth use or methamphetamine manufacturing environments visit the National Drug Endangered Children website.
Whatever you do; do not touch containers, apparatus, chemicals - anything in the structure. Do not smell any containers. Do not move or open any chemical containers. Do not turn any light switches or electrical power switches on or off.
If you come in contact with a potential meth lab, you should shower thoroughly and wash your clothing - then call your local law enforcement.
Clandestine drug lab removal and decontamination is a dangerous and complicated process that should be handled by trained, certified professionals. Do not attempt to clean up or dispose of a suspected meth lab yourself. Do not attempt to decontaminate a property unless you have been trained on personal protective equipment and industry standard methodologies.
Tools for Home Owners
Meth “screenings” are often performed to gain information regarding potential meth residue contamination at the property. These screenings are not governed by most state's clandestine drug lab testing and decontamination regulations. Screenings are helpful in properties with no known background of use as a methamphetamine production laboratory or to test for meth use. AccuMeth® is a critical tool for protecting home buyers, realtors, sellers and renters from liability.
It is the landlord’s responsibility to lease a property free of hazards, AccuMeth® brand kits can be used to test for meth prior to and between tenants. AccuMeth® brand kits are also useful to law enforcement and social service personnel to establish home health. Children are most susceptible to health risks associated with meth production because their metabolisms are higher, they tend play on the floor and they have hand-to-mouth behavior. Many states now have Drug Endangered Children Programs that offer assistance for high risk children in drug exposed environments. See Meth Lab Cleanup Company's corporate website for regulations specific to your state. Please note, although not all states are currently regulated, many cities and counties now have their own ordinances.
The focus of any testing event should be getting timely, reliable results in the most cost-effective manner. It is also important to recognize that a visual assessment of a suspect property will not suffice. There may not be a notable smell and you cannot see meth contamination. What you need is a field test kit that will tell you whether or not your property is contaminated: AccuMeth®. Test for meth with a kit that has been proven to give accurate results.
After the meth manufacture process has finished, most of the immediate hazards decrease. However, some residual contamination created from repeated "cooks" can remain long after all production has stopped causing health problems. Harmful chemicals can be volatilized or aerosolized during the cooking process and deposited on surfaces and materials. Contaminants in air are absorbed into porous materials including drapes, carpets, furniture, rugs and other surfaces and may also contaminate the heating system of the residence. Spills are common in meth labs and my impact appliances, walls, floors and other nonporous surfaces. Clandestine meth production also include hazardous chemicals which may be dumped down the toilets, drains and/or sinks and leave contamination in the waste water system.
To know if your home is contaminated with residue from smoking meth or to check for meth residue remaining from a clandestine drug lab, you need to perform testing. It's that simple.
The objective of methamphetamine testing is to collect samples representative of the actual levels of contamination within a property. Your testing kit needs to be accurate. Depending on the nature of the application, the best approach typically comes down to a specific balance of cost and speed versus confidence in the reliability and precision of test results.
We have the perfect test just waiting for you: AccuMeth® brand kits have been validated by side-by-side field testing (compared to laboratory analyzed samples), certified laboratory analysis and statistical analysis by university.
Methamphetamine Contamination Health Risks
Exposure to meth contamination can take several routes: breathing, eating, injecting or though skin absorption. Both chronic (long term, over 1 year) and acute (short term) health issues may result from meth contaminant exposure. Direct contact with product or waste and inhalation of product or wastes are considered acute exposures. Burns, Tissue irritation, rashes and burns may result from skin contact and chemical spills. Nausea, headaches, dizziness and other health effects may result from vapor inhalation. For more information on methamphetamine contamination hazards, visit this link.
If you are experiencing medical issues that you suspect are related to meth use or meth production contamination in your home or apartment test to find out if the cause is methamphetamine related. When it comes to confidence and accuracy in on-site testing for methamphetamine residue there’s nothing like using the right tools to do the job on the spot. You need a proven meth test kit that can provide answers immediately: AccuMeth®. AccuMeth® kits are easy to use and you can't beat their performance.