Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

Illegal Meth Labs: Cleanup Raises Health and Environmental Concerns. (EH Update)

Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

Illegal Meth Labs: Cleanup Raises Health and Environmental Concerns. (EH Update)

Article excerpt

The production, sale, and use of methamphetamines are a growing problem in the United States. While the use and sale of methamphetamines create social and economic problems, the production of meth poses a serious environmental threat. Makeshift laboratories continue to be discovered around the country in houses, apartments, motels, trailers, sheds, and autos. In 1999, DEA authorities seized over 2,000 meth labs in the United States. Although law enforcement usually handles the majority of the cleanup and disposal of these makeshift laboratories, dangerous chemical residue and contamination may be left on surfaces of absorbent materials (e.g., carpets, furniture, drapes), sinks, drains, and ventilation systems.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) is trying to help facilitate the cleanup and disposal of these labs by identifying the contaminants found. This process has proven to be complicated, because many different "recipes" can be used for the creation of meth. Also, the production of methamphetamines often is performed in different stages at different locations. Preliminary findings indicate that some of the major methamphetamine-related contaminants include VOCs, acids, bases, explosives, metals, iodine, and phosphorous.

The potential health effects of exposure to meth contaminants vary depending on the specific chemicals, the concentration levels, the length of exposure, and the health of the person exposed. …

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