Meth contamination cleanup is a complicated and potentially dangerous process. The reality is that when a property is contaminated with meth, professional assistance is a must. A home or business owner lacks the background, skillset, equipment (including personal protective equipment or PPE), and the decontamination agents necessary to remediate a meth contaminated property. There are three components associated with comprehensive meth decontamination:
- Site inspection
- Site sampling
- Site remediation
For the purposes of this discussion of meth contamination cleanup and decontamination, the focus will be on a property at which a meth lab was operated. It is important to note that meth contamination can also occur as the result of meth smoking in the premises as well as the property being used by a meth dealer.
The first phase of comprehensive meth contamination cleanup or meth decontamination is a thorough site inspection. In advance of a meth remediation site inspection occurring, confirmation that law enforcement or health department officials have finished their work must be obtained.
If a meth lab was operated at a particular location, a real possibility exists that law enforcement, the local health department, and a HAZMAT team are involved in addressing issues at the property. The initial site inspection must be coordinated after these other teams have completed their work at a contaminated property.
The site inspection needs to include an examination of the physical elements of the property itself. A key part of this is to identify any structural hazards at the property. The reality is that those that operate meth labs can cause significant damage to the physical elements of a property itself. The level of damage can create dangers in and of themselves.
If a meth decontamination company is the first to be on the scene, it falls upon that specialist to make some initial determinations about the possibility that a meth lab was operated on the premises. For example, there can be situations in which a property is thought to have been the scene of a meth lab, but the situation isn’t such that law enforcement or the health department were not first brought to the scene. If meth contamination is thought to have occurred because of the use of the drug, a remediation specialist nearly always will be the first to the scene.
In such a situation, there is an array of signs that indicate the possibility of meth contamination. The site inspection initially focuses on identifying the presence of any of these signs:
- Glass cookware (which likely contains chemical residue)
- Bottle connected to rubber tubing
- Containers connected to rubber tubing
- Coffee filters
- Bedsheets (possibly stained with a red dye looking substance or containing a white powdery residue)
- Stained carpet
- Glass pipes
- Glass syringes
- Burn marks on walls
- Burn marks on ceilings
- Missing smoke detectors
- Broken or tampered smoke detectors
- Burn piles in the yard
- Stains on walls
- Stains on the floor
- Closed-circuit televisions
- Security system
- Extreme amounts of debris (similar to hoarding)
- Writing on walls
- Missing light bulbs
With the initial site inspection concluded, site sampling and testing occur. The general manner in which this phase is conducted is via swabs being taken from surfaces at different locations around the premises thought to be contaminated with meth. These swabs are then transported to an approved testing facility that analyses samples for the presence of meth. These facilities typically also can screen for fentanyl. In this day and age, and with growing frequency, both meth and fentanyl sampling will be taken and tested in a lab.
The final stage of the comprehensive meth decontamination process is the actual remediation of methamphetamine from the premises. There are a number of ways in which meth decontamination can be undertaken. There is a general consensus that the best way to efficiently and effectively undertake meth decontamination is by using professionally formulated methamphetamine remediation products.
There are other remediation courses that can be followed including the complete removal of contaminated surfaces. This is a very costly way of eliminating meth contamination. Fogging with bleach is another decontamination process that can be used to remediate a meth situation.
Safety and Meth Decontamination
Safety is the most fundamental consideration when it comes to all matters related to meth contamination cleanup or meth decontamination. Safety must be at the forefront of the site inspection as well as during the actual remediation process.
At the start of the whole process, the site itself must be cordoned off. No one can be permitted into the site unless they are part of the inspection, sampling and testing, or remediation process. As will be discussed more fully in a moment, anyone authorized to be on the premises must wear appropriate personal protective equipment or PPE. This PPE includes:
- Filtering facepiece respirator
- Disposable uniform
- Foot coverings
- Head coverings
All of these PPE elements must be designed for use specifically in situations involving hazardous chemicals like meth.
Because of the dangers associated with inspecting, testing, and remediating meth contamination, the standard practice is for a two-person team be used to don PPE. One person will be outfitted with the PPE with the assistance of the second person of the pair. In the final analysis, nothing is more important than ensuring that the proper PPE is obtained and that it is appropriately donned by any individual who will enter into the contaminated premises.