Understanding the Risk of Drug Lab CleanupJanuary 13, 2017
There are huge risks that come with cleaning up a drug lab. Untrained, unprofessional cleaners should never be used to remove, remediate, clean or refurbish a meth or other drug lab. Hiring professionals is the only safe and responsible way to conduct a drug lab cleanup because of the risks that come with it. Dangers include inhalation of toxic fumes, external contact with toxic or harmful chemicals, and possible contraction of diseases. Hiring a company lowers your personal risk and lowers the chance that there will be left over drug or chemical residue while doing it yourself may cause harm to you and put others who come after you at risk.
The risk that comes with drug lab cleanup comes first with the drug itself. Methamphetamines are a synthetic drug which stimulates the central nervous system (Wisconsin Department of Health Services) and are comprised of dangerous chemicals and substances. Exposure to meth and other drug labs can cause side effects even if you do not come in direct contact or ingest the drug. There are harmful materials that can cause damage to your body and bodily function which increases the risk that comes with cleaning up a drug lab. Understanding the risk that is associated with drug lab cleanup is the first step in the cleaning process.
Even after contractors or law enforcement clear out the property of a clandestine drug lab and the obvious cooking equipment, drug residues may remain. Many people underestimate the amount of contamination in a drug lab cleanup that they must deal with and therefore underestimate the danger that comes with it. According to the OEHHA, there are at least six pounds of hazardous waste material for every one pound of meth produced. When cleaning up a lab, there is a high risk of contamination. This includes drug residue which can be in drains, carpets and air-ducts, counters and surfaces located within the building and especially in the area where the drugs were made, and even in the drywall and subfloors. This adds to the risk factor in cleaning up a drug lab. Other materials left in the home or property may be contaminated and will need to be removed. Due to the risk these items present they cannot be left at the curb for regular disposal. The safest option will be to take anything removed from the building to a landfill.
The toxic waste that is left behind in a drug lab is dangerous to your health as well. Chemicals used in a clandestine meth lab can cause bodily harm, internal irritation, and in some cases death. Depending on the lab, even a small amount of exposure can be detrimental. It is risky business cleaning a drug lab and you must understand the dangers. With minuscule exposure, meth can cause major health concerns for anyone who enters the property even after the cleanup is complete. During cleanup if proper protection isn’t in place you may experience chemical burns both internal and external. Heavy breathing, respiratory issues, headaches, nausea, and dizziness are also symptoms you may experience and they can all lead to greater health concerns.
Another risk associated with the cleaning of a drug lab is the volatility of the chemicals, equipment and chemical residue. Many components used in the making of illegal drugs are flammable. These chemicals may ignite if exposed to a flame while others may react with cleaners used and cause harm to the person cleaning as well as cause damage to the property. Chemicals such as propane and acetone are used in the making of illegal drugs and their vapors left in the air can not only cause harm to your body but if exposed to a flame may ignite. Household chemicals that an untrained individual may use could also put them at risk. Household cleaners such as bleach can react with the residues left in the drug lab and can cause serious harm to people in the vicinity.
A great risk you may not be aware of in cleaning up the property is that you may not be in agreement with state regulations which can lead to your house being uninhabitable and condemned by the state. If you fail to meet regulations set by the state or the amount of residual drug trace is higher that the state’s legal limit the house may be condemned. If a home is condemned it means it is no longer fit for habitation. Until the property is brought up to regulation level you will have to leave the home or building. From this point, the cost of cleanup skyrockets. Beyond the expenditures, you have already made, money will not be spent on professional cleanup and remediation as well.
The simplest way to reduce the risk that comes with drug lab cleanup is to hire a professional drug lab cleanup company. If cleanup is done any other way, understanding the risks that come with cleanup is a must. Be aware of the health concerns that come with being in contact with illegal drugs, the chemicals used to make them, and the risks associated with self-cleanup.