Safety Experts Meet in Mock Clandestine Drug Lab, Illustrating Dangers

A press conference was held today at 10 a.m. in a realistic mock clandestine drug lab here at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The setup was part of the 2009 American Industrial Hygiene conference and expo, and the replica lab dramatically illustrated to those on hand the hazards such clandestine facilities are to first responders and the general public.

Among the speakers at the press conference was Ontario Fire Marshal Pat Burke, who noted that such drub labs are becoming increasingly common, with Ontario's Office of the Fire Marshal being called to a structure fire involving an illegal lab about every 15 days.

The mock labs included marijuana grow and oil extraction operations and other types of synthesis labs, such as for methamphetamine, ecstasy, and Rohypnol. Also on display was the Municipal Health and Safety Association's Marijuana Grow Operation and Clandestine Drug Lab Trailer, a fully operational, walk-through exhibit of both a marijuana grow operation and a realistic meth lab.

As part of the display, videos, photographs, and other health and safety information relevant to emergency personnel who respond to fires or raids at meth labs and marijuana grow houses were also included. Industrial hygienists and OFM members who are experts on these illegal drug production facilities conducted short tours and offered advice on taking precautions when entering and working such crime scenes. In addition, industrial hygienists explained how the defensive systems (booby traps and fortification) weapons, chemicals, hazardous waste, and dangerous criminals that are often present at these clandestine labs pose an extreme risk to authorities and the public.

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