Meth Labs and Production
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Meth Labs

Meth labs can be set up using common household equipment and chemicals. The different ways used to make meth can involve explosives, solvents, metals, salts, and corrosives. Meth labs have been found in homes, sheds, barns, motel and hotel rooms, outside in the woods, and in car trunks. Manufacturing or "cooking" meth can leave behind large amounts of toxic waste.

Toxic chemical fumes, spills, explosions, and fires make meth labs dangerous places. Meth cooks, their family members, and first responders are often the ones who are injured (or worse) in illegal drug labs. Waste dumped from meth labs can expose people to toxic chemicals. People simply picking up litter on the side of a road have been injured from meth lab waste dumps.

Exposures to high levels of contaminants found in meth labs can cause shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, dizziness, lack of coordination, chemical irritation, and burns to the skin, eyes, mouth, and nose.  In severe cases, exposure may lead to death. Symptoms such as headache, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue have occurred in people who entered a meth lab after the bust was completed, but before the property was properly cleaned and ventilated.

Not much is known about the long-term health effects from these labs. Long-term exposure to meth labs is a big concern, especially for children living in a very contaminated environment. However, there is scientific evidence from animal and human toxicity studies that shows the chemicals used in the manufacture of meth can cause a range of health effects. These include cancer, damage to the brain, liver and kidney damage, birth defects, and reproductive problems such as miscarriages.

What are some signs that might indicate a meth lab? Signs of meth labs include large quantities of common household products. Used as directed, these household products are generally safe. When mixed together or used improperly, they can become explosive and produce toxic fumes. Alone, the following activities or signs may not mean that illegal drug activity is occurring. However, some or several of them happening together may signal a problem.

  • Appear to have plenty of money but don't seem to go to work. They may drive expensive cars and pay rent or bills with cash.
  • Children and pets of the home appear to be neglected.
  • Deterioration of property and excessive amounts of trash such as large amounts of antifreeze, drain cleaner, and glass containers.
  • Extra efforts to cover windows or have extensive security, such as reinforced doors.
  • Never take trash out to be collected or put garbage in another neighbor's collection area.
  • Residents act unfriendly, paranoid, or appear secretive about their activities.
  • Residents only come outside to smoke cigarettes and then quickly vanish back inside.
  • Strong chemical odor coming from house, garbage, or detached building.
  • Visitors come and go throughout the day and night and stay for short periods of time.

Meth Labs: What to do if you suspect one

  • Leave the site at once and report it.
  • Do not open any coolers, containers, or boxes.
  • Do not touch any items. Handling meth chemicals and/or meth lab waste residue can burn your skin and eyes. Also, breathing the gases can cause respiratory damage.
  • Do not shut off any electrical supplies.
  • Limit time inside the scene.
  • Try not to alert the suspects of your suspicions.

Meth Labs and Production
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