Although the number of meth labs in the U.S. is on the decline, every structure that has been used for that purpose has been contaminated. Property owners who discover a meth lab have a responsibility to keep occupants safe, either by condemning the building or providing meth remediation. Either path requires decontamination to protect construction workers, cleanup crews, future occupants, and anybody else who might come into contact with the space.
Health Risks of Former Meth Labs
The chemicals used to make meth are highly toxic, as are the chemical byproducts. If not remediated, the residue left behind can be hazardous to the health of future occupants, producing symptoms such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Memory loss
- Behavior changes
- Burning eyes or skin
The risks are particularly high for children, and long-term exposure can result in lifelong health effects. Cleanup crews face the same risks of meth exposure as occupants and could exhibit the same symptoms if not protected.
7 Tips for Meth Lab Cleanup
Unfortunately, meth remediation isn’t as simple as wiping down surfaces and adding a coat of paint. Use these tips if you suspect a former meth lab in a property you own or occupy.
1. Don’t Occupy the Space
If you know or suspect that meth was once produced in a space you use, avoid spending time there until it is remediated. Any exposure comes with a certain amount of risk, so it is best to stay out of contaminated spaces.
2. Hire a Professional
Only conduct meth remediation with the help of an experienced professional who understands the risks and how to address them. Ask any providers you are considering about prior experience with meth remediation, the approach they will take, and the products they will use.
3. Have the Space Tested
If you suspect a former meth lab in a building you own or occupy, have it professionally tested to determine the source of contamination. A professional will wipe different surfaces and send in samples for testing before deciding what approach is required.
4. Remove Furnishings
If a space is confirmed to be contaminated, remove all soft furnishings, carpets, curtains, and other items that may have been contaminated and have them disposed of professionally. Do not put potentially contaminated items into household trash bins or commercial dumpsters.
5. Use the Right Products
Meth remediation can be conducted in many ways, and some are more destructive than others. In some cases, drywall and other construction materials may need to be removed and replaced if they cannot be decontaminated. Ask the professional you hire what products they will use, how long the process will take, and the potential effects the process could have on the space.
6. Use the Right PPE
Any time you or a professional enter the space before or during remediation, ensure you use proper personal protective equipment (PPE). This might include masks, gloves, booties, and so on. Consider the PPE required for both the potential meth exposure and any decontamination products that will be used.
7. Avoid Cross-Contamination
Do as much as possible to contain the contamination in the former meth lab. You can do this by:
- Removing protective booties when leaving the area.
- Minimizing the number of people that can go in and out.
- Decontaminating shoes and clothing.
- Isolating the shoes or clothing worn in the space.
Decon7 and Meth Remediation
You have options when it comes to choosing a provider for decontamination. Look for a professional that uses Decon7 products for meth remediation. Originally developed to neutralize chemical and biological weapons, Decon7 is effective against the toxic chemicals and byproducts of meth production. Detergents in the formulation help dissolve chemicals, which are then attacked and neutralized by hydrogen peroxide.
The products are non-toxic and easy to apply as a foam, fog, spray, or soak. They can be used on walls, surfaces, and areas that are difficult to reach and can also decontaminate household items.
Read our case study, Safer Meth Remediation with the Power of Foam, to learn more about Decon7 products and meth remediation.