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    House Decontamination & More About Meth Lab Cleanup

  • Importance of Professional Meth Lab Cleaning

    Methamphetamine (meth) is a drug that is growing in popularity among users and dealers. People create and cook meth in an environment using many chemicals and equipment.

    According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Methamphetamine Lab Incidents list there were 11,210 clandestine laboratory incidents in 2012. This is down from 13,390 in 2011. Missouri leads the country at 1,825 incidents. Right behind is Tennessee at 1,585 and Indiana at 1,429. New York, California and Texas report 147, 79, and 32 busts respectively.

    But these numbers can be deceiving.

    Some methamphetamine labs literally go up in flames as fires and explosions are telltale signs of chemistry gone bad. However, most go undetected by police. In reality, law enforcement busts only a fraction of clandestine laboratories. So what happens to undetected labs and what are the procedures for identifying contamination and cleaning the structures so they are safe for re-occupancy?

    This first step is identifying the danger. Here are some things to watch for before entering a suspect structure:

    • Police Activity
    • Pungent Odors
    • Unkempt Property
    • Empty Chemical Containers:
    • The DEA

     

    If you believe there is a meth lab in your neighborhood, you must contact law enforcement for an investigation. Law enforcement can then contact an appropriate professional cleaning service to complete the meth lab cleaning. If you attempt to clean the property yourself, you are endangering yourself and others. Take a look below at why it is important for only professionals to clean up a meth lab.

  • Meth Lab Cleanup Costs Video

    Instructional video on the importance of expertly trained Meth Lab Cleanup Crews

    Meth Lab Cleanup Services Done Rigth

    If you believe there is a meth lab in your neighborhood, you must contact law enforcement for an investigation. Law enforcement can then contact an appropriate professional cleaning service to complete the meth lab cleaning. If you attempt to clean the property yourself, you are endangering yourself and others. Take a look below at why it is important for only professionals to clean up a meth lab. Learn more about Meth Lab Cleanup Costs below.

    Call Us For Your Meth Lab Cleanup Costs Quote Today

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  • The Process of Meth Lab Cleanup Costs

    From dangers to removing any associated objects and who regulates us

    Dangers of Meth Cleanup

    Before the cleanup process can begin, it is important to know the dangers of possible worker exposure. Meth labs are highly toxic chemical mine fields. Fire and explosions pose an immediate risk due to the volatile compounds used in production. Entering a meth lab before proper assessment by law enforcement or before proper testing and cleaning can cause symptoms ranging from coughing, nausea and dizziness, to chemical burns and even death. Routes of exposure from meth lab chemicals occur thorough inhalation, absorption or through direct skin contact and ingestion.

     

     

    Containers, Equipment, and Chemicals

    In a meth lab, there are many containers, equipment, and toxic chemicals for cooking meth. These harmful chemicals can include a variety of ingredients, such as solvents, acids, paint thinners, and ammonia. If you come into contact with any of these chemicals or equipment, you could expose yourself to very harmful side effects. Some side effects include rashes and skin/eye irritations, dizziness, nausea, respiratory issues, and headaches. Not to mention, some of the cooking equipment used poses a threat of possible explosions if not handled properly. In fact, if you clean a meth lab and are in contact with these chemicals, you are at risk for serious health concerns and even death.

    Who Regulates Them?

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not officially regulate the cleanup of meth labs but does provide Meth Lab Cleanup Guidelines for reference. Every state has an independent procedural and clearance mandate for re-occupancy. Links to state regulatory data can be found here regarding the Meth Lab Cleanup Guidelines. Meth Lab cleanup costs are directly associated with the amount of work that correlates with bringing the environment back to safety standards and conditions.

  • Professional Meth Lab Cleanup Services and Costs

    The average drug lab cleanup costs is between $12,000-$17,000. Again the price varies greatly with the levels of contamination and the size of the house

    Why you need to leave the cleaning to professionals:

    While you may wish to take care of the lab clean up in your neighborhood, it is not as simple as you might think. You can’t simply clean out the equipment or throw it away, as the chemicals can linger if not cleaned properly. Professional contractors have the expert knowledge, skills, and equipment to clean up the lab. Contractors will need to remove more than the equipment, such as the HVAC system, vehicles, etc.

    After the removal of items, the entire lab will need to be decontaminated in a way only professionals know how to do. Additionally, parts of a home such as the floors, air ducts, insulation, etc. will need to be decontaminated. And, most people would not think to clean or disinfect these items. After the cleanup and decontamination are complete, the lab will need to be removed or the home restored. This is another task that only a professional contractor is knowledgeable to complete.

    Best practices in cleaning up a former meth lab:

    Secure the Property: If a structure is suspect, do not enter the building. Instead, allow local law enforcement and first responder hazmat teams to remove toxic and hazardous drug paraphernalia and chemicals. After this is complete, the testing and remediation process can begin. Personnel who enter a former meth lab should have safety and health training. Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as eye glasses, heavy gloves, foot coverings, steel toe boots and long-sleeved coveralls or a disposable protective suit must be worn.

    Ventilate: Air out meth labs with fresh, outdoor air by opening doors and windows and using blowers and/or a negative air unit with HEPA filtration before, during and after the remediation process. HVAC systems should be completely shut down before and during the remediation process to avoid re-contamination.

    Develop a Cleanup Plan: Use the scope of work provided by the environmental consultant to formulate a plan for cleanup. The plan should show security concerns, status of utilities on site, levels of PPE for workers and a shoring plan if structural integrity is an issue. Outline cleanup methods including removal vs. cleaning, encapsulations if any and procedures for on-site and off-site contamination include a waste disposal plan.

    Remove Contaminated Materials: The EPA suggests gross removal followed by 24 hours of ventilation and removal of all meth paraphernalia. This is when the determination is made to clean or discard contents.

    Removing Contaminated Materials

    Consider the following:

    • Potential for human contact: Take extra care with children’s items: Frequent hand to mouth contact, higher metabolic system and developing nervous system make children more vulnerable to toxic chemicals.
    • Intrinsic or emotional value of irreplaceable items and photos.
    • Porosity: Porous items are much more difficult to clean and are often discarded.
    • Hazardous or non-hazardous waste disposal? Meth lab waste cannot go in landfills, according to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
    • Follow asbestos and lead disposal guidelines.

     

    Preliminary Washing of Hard Surfaces: After items have been removed and vacuumed, wash walls and hard surfaces using a detergent water solution. This helps prevents re-contamination during the remediation process. Bleach should not be used in the cleaning process as the reaction between bleach and the chemicals used in producing meth can create a toxic gas. Consider testing wash water to determine if it qualifies as hazardous waste or can be disposed of onsite.

    Walls: Remove stained or smelly wall surfaces unless the removal would damage structural integrity. Clean smooth walls, then “encapsulate” them in paint or other sealant to slow the release of any leftover contamination.

    Before cleaning or removing a textured wall, check it for asbestos. If it has no asbestos, wash and encapsulate it. If it has asbestos, consider encapsulating it. Remove any absorbent building material, such as insulation that is stained or smelly.

    Ceilings: Clean or discard ceiling fans; remove and replace smelly or stained ceiling; check textured ceilings for asbestos; encapsulate the ones that have no asbestos. Discard contaminated ceiling tiles; consider encapsulating the ones that contain asbestos instead of removing them if removal would disturb the asbestos.


    Floors: Wash and re-seal sheet, laminate or vinyl tile unless it is stained or melted. Discard porous floors, such as those made of wood or cork. Consider also removing floors in high-traffic areas. Vacuum to remove dust from subflooring. Remove tile floors if they are porous; otherwise wash them. Grind down and replace grout then seal it, or seal over it.

    Vacuum: Vacuum the floors with a commercial-grade vacuum with a HEPA filter after carpet removal. Standard canister or non-commercial grade vacuums are not recommended. In addition, vacuum walls to remove dirt and cobwebs prior to washing. This will remove particulate contamination but will not remove contamination entirely.

    Kitchen countertops: If you can see it is contaminated, or if it is porous, discard it. Sand down and wash non-porous solid countertops. Remove ceramic and stone countertops if they’re in a “high-contact area,” otherwise re-glaze them.

    Concrete, cement and brick: Wash with a detergent-water solution If you suspect high contamination, leave it up to the contractor to decide what to do, because removal may cause structural damage, Encapsulation is also possible.

    Appliances: Discard contaminated appliances, electronics and tools. Discard large and small appliances used in meth making or storage. Wash the outside of them before you discard them to protect refuse workers. Make them unusable so they can’t be salvaged. More research is needed to know if it’s safe to use appliances that had been located in a meth lab.

    Clean and Seal HVAC System: Shut down the HVAC system immediately and leave it off during the remediation process. Sample all areas and rooms serviced by the system to determine the spread of contamination. Test ducts to determine scope of contamination. Cleaning can be difficult as many times duct work can be porous and can re-contaminate the structure after remediation is complete. Cleaning methods should be left to the discretion of ventilation contractors but experts agree that no chemicals should be added to disinfect ducts.

    Wood: Discard any wood that shows visible contamination, or wash then encapsulate it.

    Windows: Triple-wash, with clean cloths each time.

    Electric: Electrical outlet covers and wall switch plate covers should be replaced or washed

    Flush Plumbing & Septic Systems: Meth chemicals are frequently poured into sink drains and flushed down toilets. As a result, plumbing systems can be compromised via corrosion or even become flammable. Flush plumbing traps with generous amounts of water during the cleaning process and again after remediation if wash water is disposed of on site. Sinks, bathtubs and toilets with visible discoloration and etching should be disposed of. Large amounts of chemical waste can be problematic if they remain in septic systems or private wastewater systems. If there is evidence of contamination, an industrial hygienist should sample the tank for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and/or pH levels outside the normal range. Expert field screening should be used to evaluate septic system contamination. Remediation of septic systems should be done last.

    Plates, etc.: Discard any used in meth making. Discard any plastic bottles, nipples and baby utensils and dishes in a way to prevent reuse. Wash everything else.

    Toys: Any baby toys that can fit in the mouth and any contaminated toys should be discarded in a way that prevents reuse. Stuffed animals and other porous toys should be discarded. Metal and hard plastic toys can be washed.

    Carpet: Remove and discard in a way that prevents reuse. Don’t clean it. Carpet padding and flooring under carpet are also likely contaminated.

    Clothes: Discard contaminated ones, triple-wash the rest on-site then take off-site to dry. Anything that can’t be washed in a machine should be discarded. Exceptions can be made for wedding dresses and the like, as long as owner understands the risk.

    Upholstered furniture: Destroy, then discard. In some cases, you can strip the upholstery and cushions, then clean.

    Mattresses: Most states recommend tossing mattresses, but if there was not much meth to begin with and the mattress was far from the meth cooking site and the same heating, ventilation and air conditioning system doesn’t serve both rooms, it can be saved.

    Paper and books: Discard, except important legal or historical documents and photos.

    Mobile homes: It may be more cost-effective to demolish a mobile home, because they tend to have more porous surfaces.

    Clearance Testing: It is very important to show that cleanup effectively reduced contamination. Check with local governments to determine re-occupancy clearance levels. If cleaning does not meet the state standard, the site should be cleaned again or encapsulation or removal should be considered

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  • Example Photo of a Meth House Cleanup

    Notice all the potential danger risks in the image below

    House that needs meth lab cleanup

    Cleaning up a Meth house or lab needs to be taken seriously

    Making crystal meth involves a witch's brew of ordinary household products like acetone, acids, brake cleaner and iodine, which are all used to cook cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine into meth.

    Bottles of paint thinner, drain opener or muriatic or other acids are strong indicators that someone has been making meth, as are propane tanks or other heat sources used to cook the drug. Sinks stained red by phosphorus, chemical smells and powdery residues left in glass cookware are also telltale signs.

     

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