Case 9: Methamphetamine Lab in an apartment
The decontamination work consisted of recovering the residual residue produced during the operation of a clandestine methamphetamine lab (user level) in a one-bedroom apartment.
This user level lab was established in the utility room for segregation. The police were aware of the occupant’s clandestine manufacturing of methamphetamine and they were waiting for him to cook before raiding the apartment. The police succeeded in their plan and the occupant was cooking methamphetamine when they arrived to shut it all down.
Any remaining paraphernalia or used needles were disposed of in biological waste containers through a third-party disposal company and a medical waste disposal manifest is on file for support. The metal shelving had reacted to the corrosive fumes. The carpet, couches, appliances, and any remaining material were removed and disposed of.
Clandestine methamphetamine labs can be broken down into two legs of remediation, Bulk Decontamination and Residual Decontamination. Both of these types of contamination are covered by each of the regulatory arms of RCRA, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (1976), and CERCLA, the Comprehensive Emergency, Response, Compensation and Liability Act (1980). Residual decontamination is the cleanup of the lab performed after bulk removal is complete. This bulk removal was performed by local DEA agents.
EPA Voluntary Guidelines for Methamphetamine Laboratory Cleanup
1. Secure property
2. Hire a specialized meth remediation contractor
3. Ventilate property with open windows and/or doors with
circulation provided by blowers and/or HEPA-filtered air scrubbers
4. Perform preliminary assessment
5. Conduct pre-remediation sampling, if applicable
6. Develop cleanup plan from the preliminary
7. Remove contaminated materials
8. Vacuum surfaces
9. Complete initial washing of surfaces to remove majority of contamination
10. Clean and seal the HVAC system, leave system off during remediation
11. Flush plumbing traps
12. Use detergent-water solution to wash surfaces
13. Conduct post remediation sampling
14. Consider encapsulating applicable surfaces with oil-based sealant paint
15. Flush drains with detergent water
16. Ventilate the structure post-remediation
17. Perform outdoor remediation activities
18. Secure property
19. Prepare final report
HEPA filtered air scrubbers that processes 2000 cubic feet of air per minute were operating throughout the residue recovery process to contain any residual contaminants produced during the manufacturing of methamphetamine. A commercial dehumidifier was also been utilized to recover water vapor produced throughout the process. This transmittal of information is to be accomplished by means of comprehensive hazard communication programs, which are to include container labeling and other forms of warning, material safety data sheets (MSDS), and employee training.
Gloves and all applicable personal protective equipment (PPE) has been provided to create a protective barrier in between the technician and the site environmental hazards such as methamphetamine residue in accordance with OSHA Standard Personal Protective Equipment 1910.132.
Surface samples were taken post-remediation to ensure the surfaces have been decontaminated, results included, and the directly affected porous, painted, surfaces have been painted with a sealant in preparation for a unit make-ready crew. The appliances have been treated with solution and discarded. The walls were treated with the chemical extractor. This extractor would apply neutralizing solution with a nozzle and recover with the wand. The residual moisture was recovered with the dehumidifier and the HEPA air scrubber.
The commercial dehumidifier (see below) ran during the periods of heavy neutralizing solution fogging to combat fluid accumulation on the floors in addition to heavy mopping. The bathroom was treated in its entirety and one of the post samples was taken from the wall (see right). The painted surfaces of the unit were sealed with oil-based sealant paint (Kilz) once the results came back clean (see bottom right).
The bathtub was treated with solution and the water was run for ten minutes (with the drain open) after detergent water rested in the tub overnight (with the drain closed) to treat any residue that may have been in the tub from dumping the chemicals during manufacturing. The shelving and all recesses were exposed once the contents and carpet and pad were removed.
It is very important to detail clean these areas and especially those near the floor where small children and animals could be exposed to residual methamphetamine manufacturing residue.
Hand sprayers were used to apply the detergent solution (Dawn) to the entire unit and surfaces were scrubbed with pads and brooms. In addition to the detergent solution applied with the extractor, a methamphetamine residue neutralizer (Artemis Bio-Oxygen Chem-Decon) was applied with a fogger once the surfaces to be treated were exposed. Water was run through the fogger once finished due to the strong specialized chemical. Get The Odor Out was also applied with the fogger.
The base ingredient of this product is Stabilized Chlorine Dioxide (2000 PPM), an EPA listed light-duty bactericide used to restore biological hygiene. This solution also contributes to oxidizing the compounds found in any trace residue from the meth lab on hard-to-reach surfaces in recess areas. In summary, by removing belongings, carpet, and pad all surfaces were exposed to treat with neutralizer and the contents were disposed of.