Researcher Questions Adequacy of Meth Lab Cleanup Methods

When authorities discover a "meth house," they decontaminate it by removing chemicals, getting rid of carpeting, cleaning walls, and airing the place out for a few days. Dr. Glenn Morrison, an associate professor of environmental engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology, is concerned as to whether such decontamination methods are sufficient to protect future occupants from exposure to methamphetamine and other chemicals.

“Most people who live in a former meth house don't even know it," he said. "And some hotel rooms have also been contaminated."

Recently, Morrison was awarded $116,000 from the National Institute of Standards and Technology to research the interactions between building materials and the chemicals used in methamphetamine labs.

Methamphetamine cooks use a potent combination of ingredients, including ammonia, methanol, ether, benzene, and reactive metals. According to Morrison, the chemicals penetrate into materials like paint, wood, and vinyl flooring and then "slowly come back to the surface over time."

Morrison is concerned that children who make contact with the surfaces will ingest methamphetamine. Also, he says, lingering methamphetamine can be released into the air, where it bonds with tiny chemicals that are floating around. This means it could be inhaled, even months to years after rooms were thoroughly cleaned.

"We want to be comfortable with the cleaning methods," Morrison said. "Are these methods sufficiently protective? How much should people be concerned about living in a former meth house?"

Morrison is leading the Missouri S&T study in conjunction with researchers at the University of Texas-Austin. In order to see how the chemicals interact with building materials, they plan to examine samples taken from homes after a bust and cleanup. According to Morrison, standard decontamination procedures may need to be amended in the future to include additional steps that are more technical.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • The Top 5 Safety and Technology Trends to Watch in 2019

    Get the latest on trends you can expect to hear more about in 2019, including continued growth of mobile safety applications, wearable technology, and smart PPE; autonomous vehicles; pending OSHA recordkeeping rulemaking; and increased adoption of international safety standard, ISO 45001.

  • Get the Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    OSHA’s Form 300A posting deadline is February 1! Are you prepared? To help answer your key recordkeeping questions, IndustrySafe put together this guide with critical compliance information.

  • Safety Training 101

    When it comes to safety training, no matter the industry, there are always questions regarding requirements and certifications. We’ve put together a guide on key safety training topics, requirements for certifications, and answers to common training questions.

  • Conduct EHS Inspections and Audits

    Record and manage your organization’s inspection data with IndustrySafe’s Inspections module. IndustrySafe’s pre-built forms and checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • Industry Safe

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - January 2019

    January 2019

    Featuring:

    • PREVENTING ERRORS
      Production vs. Safety 
    • EMERGENCY SHOWERS & EYEWASH
      Meeting the Requirements for Emergency Equipment
    • CONSTRUCTION SAFETY
      The State of Contractor Safety
    • FOOT PROTECTION
      The Three Keys to Effective Chemical Management
    View This Issue