Meth is a highly addictive drug. Each year thousands of people become addicted to meth, and oftentimes quickly so. In addition to meth users being exposed to the dangers of the drug, innocent third parties can also be exposed to the hazards of methamphetamine. This particularly is the case when a person unknowingly is exposed to a location where a meth lab was once operated. Primary dangers of this type of meth exposure include:
- Exposure to extremely hazardous chemicals used in the making of meth
- Meth lab and its remnants have the potential to be highly flammable
- Short term exposure to chemicals associated with a meth lab can cause burns
- Meth labs can contaminate surrounding areas
- Meth labs are extremely difficult to clean up
In addition to meth itself, there exists a set of chemicals used in the making of the drug that are dangerous in and of themselves. Not only are meth cooks exposed to these hazardous chemicals during the process of making the drug, but an unknowing third party that enters into a space where a meth lab once operated can also face exposure to these chemicals as well. The hazardous chemicals associated with the meth-making process include:
- Hydrochloric acid
- Mercuric chloride
- Anhydrous ammonia
- Red phosphorus
Hydrochloric acid is extremely corrosive. This chemical has the potential to cause respiratory failure and to damage eyesight depending on how a person is exposed to this dangerous substance.
Methylamine is also highly corrosive. Prolonged exposure to this chemical can result in serious damage to a person’s internal organs.
Mercuric chloride is classified as a toxic heavy metal. This chemical can damage a person’s respiratory tract. Exposure can result in pulmonary edema.
Exposure to anhydrous ammonia at a minimum causes unpleasant nose and throat irritation. Prolonged exposure can result in bronchiolar and alveolar edema.
Exposure to freon isn’t as likely to be a hazard to a third person after the abandonment of a meth lab. If it happens to be present at the scene of a former meth lab, direct exposure to this chemical is capable of causing frostbite.
Methanol is capable of causing eye damage. Prolonged exposure can result in total blindness. Indeed, prolonged exposure is also capable of destroying the physical structure of an eye.
Red phosphorous is considered by many to be the most dangerous chemical associated with making meth. Red phosphorous is highly toxic. It can result in a number of different health issues if a person is exposed to it.
Many of the chemicals associated with the operation of a meth lab are highly flammable. The flammability danger persists after a meth lab is shut down but before the area in which it was operated is remediated.
There exist hundreds of stories of meth labs catching fire or even blowing up. Indeed, the aftereffect of a meth lab may be considered so dangerous that officials from the Drug Enforcement Agency oftentimes have serious reservations about entering a space where a meth lab was once operated.
Even after a meth lab has shut down operations, but before the site has been decontaminated and remediated, chemicals can remain at the site that are capable of causing chemical burns. The bottom line reality is that until proper remediation has occurred – which can include both the immediate intervention of a HAZMAT team coupled with the efforts of a meth decontamination professional – space where a meth lab was operated can be considered “untouchable” as a result of the possibility of chemical burns.
The reality is that contamination caused by meth labs and even meth use can spread. The spreading of this contamination can occur with relative ease.
For example, if a meth lab was operated in a motel room, not only will the room end up contaminated. If a motel has a common HVAC system throughout the building, meth residue as well as other chemicals can end up being spread throughout the building through that system. As a result, meth decontamination will need to extend beyond the room where the meth lab itself was operated to other spaces throughout the building.
A proverbial layperson does not have the experience, skillset, or resources – including proper personal protective equipment – to appropriately undertake meth decontamination. Broad meth decontamination includes not only combating meth residue itself but remediating any hazardous chemicals that may remain behind following the operation of a meth lab. As a consequence, when meth contamination is expected – including the prior operation of a meth lab or the smoking of meth in a building – the professional assistance of a meth decontamination company is vital. Indeed, the assistance of a qualified meth decontamination company should be obtained promptly. Any delay has the potential to expose innocent third parties to dangerous and even life-threatening contaminates.