A key element of meth remediation is to determine whether contamination exists in the first instance and the extent of that contamination. This crucial step is accomplished through thorough testing, which requires the appropriate collection of samples. There are a number of key steps associated with collecting samples to ascertain whether or not meth contamination exists at a particular location. These steps are:
- Secure premises suspected of meth contamination
- Call local law enforcement
- Obtain appropriate meth testing kit
- Obtain reports (if any) from local law enforcement or the community health department
- Obtain appropriate personal protective equipment
- Document site
- Map out a testing strategy
- Swab designated sites
- Avoid contamination of swab samples
- Transport swab samples to a qualified lab
- Obtain accurate swab test results
Secure Premises Suspected of Meth Contamination
The first step in collecting samples as part of a meth testing process is to secure a property suspected of methamphetamine contamination. This needs to be done to protect people from exposure to hazardous meth if a site is contaminated. No one can be permitted to enter a site suspected of meth contamination without proper personal protective equipment.
Call Local Law Enforcement
If law enforcement officials previously were not informed of a suspected meth contaminated site, you need to call local law enforcement. For example, if you come upon a property that you believe was the site of a meth lab, you should call 911 for immediate assistance.
Obtain Appropriate Meth Testing Kit
There are commercial meth testing kits on the market today. These kits typically provide materials to take a decent number of swabs at a location, usually enough to fully examine a particular site for meth contamination.
Obtain Reports (If Any) From Local Law Enforcement or the Community Health Department
If police or the local health department have already been on the premises of a location suspected to be contaminated with meth, you should request a report from the local police department (or sheriff’s office, as the case may be). You will also try to get your hands om a report from the local health department if that agency has conducted an inspected of the premises in question.
Obtain Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment
You also will need to obtain appropriate personal protective equipment or PPE. You will want to obtain suitable PPE in advance of the time you enter into the property suspected to be contaminated, including when entering to secure the property or undertake testing in the first instance.
Personal protective equipment or PPE for meth remediation needs to include specific gear items. When entering a property suspected of contamination to secure the premises or to take test swabs, at a minimum PPE needs to include:
- Nitrile gloves
- Wrist and arm protective covering
- Protective eyewear
- Disposable N100 or P100 FFR respirator device
When you are entering a contaminated site to collect swab samples for testing, PPE needs to include:
- Nitrile gloves (recommended course is to wear double nitrile gloves)
- Chemical hazards protective ensemble (NFPA 1999 single or multiple-use ensemble or 1994 class four ensemble)
- SCBA respiratory protection (full face device)
Another step in collecting samples as part of meth remediation is documenting the site. The documentation process includes:
- Mapping the site by developing something of a blueprint that includes specific points at the location at which you will take swabs
- Taking photographs of the premises
- Identifying hazards at the premises that could injure an individual (hazards not associated with meth but with the physical structure
Map Out Testing Strategy
When it comes to taking swabs as part of the testing effort, you need to identify specifically where swabs will be taken. Examples of where swabs typically are taken in a location such as a residential property are:
- Living room floor
- Living room walls
- Kitchen floor
- Kitchen walls
- Bathroom floor
- Bathroom walls
- Specific bedroom floor
- Specific bedroom walls
- HVAC system (including ducts)
Swab Designated Sites
The next phase of the testing process is to take swabs at the specific locations throughout the premises previously identified. Swabs must be carefully taken in order to ensure that each swab is properly identified so that there is no confusion as to where it was taken within a suspected contaminated property.
Avoid Contamination of Swab Samples
You need to take care to avoid contaminating swabs. As mentioned a moment ago, you need to make sure each swab sample is properly identified. You also need to take care to avoid contaminating a swab with other substances. You even want to make sure that you do not improperly touch a swab to contaminate it with substances that might be on your fingers. Once a swab sample is taken, you need to make sure that the swab itself is placed in a properly marked vile or another appropriate container.
Transport Swab Samples to Qualified Lab
The next phase of the sample collection process is securely transporting all swabs taken to an appropriate testing laboratory. During this process, you need to make certain that no swab samples if disturbed or contaminated in some manner.
Obtain Accurate Swab Test Results
The final step in the meth sample collection process is receiving a lab report on the swab samples. The lab report will contain data on which swabs were contaminated with meth. The lab report will also contain information about the extent or level of meth residue on each swab.