The prevalence of methamphetamine (meth) labs continues to plague the United States. Sadly, law enforcement only finds about 10 percent of these labs. This means that individuals may unknowingly enter or even buy meth-exposed properties.
Even if the meth lab is abandoned or dismantled, it still poses health risks. This makes proper meth lab cleanup vital to the health and safety of others. Keep reading to learn how experts clean up these structures.
Signs of a Meth Lab
Do you know how to spot a meth lab? In general, the ingredients for meth include normal household products. This means you need to be knowledgeable about key things to watch for.
Things Found Inside
Common things found in a meth lab include acetone, drain cleaner, cold tablets, and paint thinner. Other ingredients, such as battery acid and freon, which are more hazardous, are also used. A key indicator that you’re in a meth lab is if you see these items in large amounts.
You also want to look for the combination of certain items or smells. Some tell-tale signs include a strong smell of chemicals or urine. Watch for a powdery residue in frying pans and glass cookware.
Meth labs often contain bottles that have rubber tubing attached to them. Take notice of red-stained coffee filters as well.
Propane tanks are often used to store anhydrous ammonia that’s used to make meth. This ammonia causes the brass valves on the tank to corrode and appear blue-green. If you see a tank with this corrosion, don’t move it and call 911 immediately.
Did you know that the outsides of meth lab buildings have common markers that identify them? Since making meth creates toxic fumes and strong odors, you’ll see extra ventilation. This may include fans, blowers, or open windows even in cold or rainy weather.
The meth producers often dump toxic waster outside which burns and kills plants. The process also generates a large amount of trash and odd items.
Look for extensive security measures. Since they’re conducting illegal activities they want to watch for law enforcement.
They may use cameras, baby monitors, or guard dogs. You’ll often see numerous signs to “keep out” or “no trespassing”.
Unusual Occupant Behavior
Often, people operating meth labs give themselves away with their behavior. They may stay inside most of the time and exhibit signs of paranoia. Frequent visitors often come during the night.
You may notice that they take their garbage to a separate location. The residents may smoke outside. While many people smoke outside, those making meth do it to avoid explosions.
Dangers of a Meth Lab
Did you know that meth labs have a high risk of exploding? The corroded propane tank valves can cause violent explosion if the valve comes off. The emission of toxic chemicals during the meth-making process is also highly flammable.
In addition to the fire hazard, the toxins can also cause harm or death. This is why it’s dangerous to live near a meth lab.
Regulatory Compliance Requirements for the Meth Lab Cleanup Process
Due to the many dangers in a meth lab, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends using experts for remediation. Choose a certified in meth lab cleanup contractor if the state offers this option. These specialists follow the OSHA standards for hazardous waste and emergency response.
The EPA published guidelines for meth cleanup in 2013. Cleaners must also follow the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules. These rules are in the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) Standard.
Each state and the local health and safety officials publish compliance criteria as well. This includes the proper removal and disposal of equipment and bulk chemicals. They also describe the safe handling of hazardous wastes and tools used in making meth.
At times, containers, apparatus, or equipment may be left at the scene after the legal seizure. Call the police before removing these items to see if they’re still processing them as evidence.
Steps Followed in Cleaning Up a Meth Lab
Following law enforcement take-over of the scene, it must be properly secured. No unauthorized individuals should enter the property until after remediation. A professional cleaning company should handle the remediation, sampling, and air quality tracking.
The following summarizes the steps involved in the cleanup process.
- Open windows and doors and use fans and/or HEPA filtration systems for ventilation
- Continue ventilating and don’t run the heating or cooling system (HVAC) while cleaning
- Take action to protect nearby structures from contamination
- Assess the property to determine the need for pre-remediation and post-remediation sampling
- If applicable, conduct pre-remediation sampling
- Develop the cleaning plan based on the assessment including how to dispose of waste
- Remove and dispose of all contaminated materials
- Vacuum all hard surfaces including the walls and floors using a HEPA filter
- Wash all walls, ceilings, floors, and non-porous items with a detergent-water solution
- Clean and then seal the HVAC system
- Flush all plumbing traps
- After the structure and all items are dry, conduct post-remediation sampling as needed
- Be sure to flush drains where wastewater was dumped during cleaning
- Thoroughly ventilate the structure following cleaning
- Perform any outdoor remediation activities needed
- Secure the structure to prevent unauthorized entrance
Once the process is complete, prepare a report of your remediation actions.
Are You Looking for a Contractor to Clean a Hazardous Area?
Meth lab cleanup is only one example of structures or events that require an expert for cleaning. Spaulding Decon has been handling many types of dangerous remediations since 2005. Our team uses state-of-the-art tools and proprietary cleaning products to mitigate the damage.
We handle meth lab testing, crime scene, drug lab, homicide, traffic accident, and tear gas cleanup. You can also call us for biohazard and viral disinfection and decontamination. If you need blood spills, unaccompanied death, or suicide cleanup, we’re prepared.
We’re your last responders. Call us today to help you clean up life’s accidents.