Cleaning Up Former Methamphetamine Labs

Meth short for methadone. A synthetic analgesic drug that is like morphine in its effects but longer acting, used as a substitute drug in the treatment of morphine and heroin addiction.


There are some short and long-term health effect that can rise from exposure to meth clan lab chemicals, by products or residuals. The effects are dependent on the quantity, the route, duration of the exposure and concentration. Chemical can enter the body by being consumed, inhaled, absorbed through the skin or injected.


Properties used to produce meth will usually have containers of chemicals such as solvents, ether, paint thinners, phosphorus, acids and bases, or anhydrous ammonia. Other lab equipment, cooking or storage containers, or heat sources may also be present. Typically, the contractor removes the bulk of any lab-related debris such as chemicals and containers after a lab is discovered by law enforcement. However, small amounts of chemicals may have contaminated surfaces, drains, sinks, ventilation systems and absorbent materials (couches, carpets, beds etc.). The meth lab contaminants may pose serious health threats to persons exposed to them.

Health effects from exposure to meth lab contaminants


Many of the contaminants used in meth labs can be harmful if people are exposed. Health problems may include breathing problems or respiratory irritation, skin and eye irritation, headaches, nausea and dizziness. High exposures even for a short time can cause death or severe lung damage and skin or throat burns.

Some FAQS About METH Clean-UP

What are some special cleaning areas?

Ventilation systems (heating and air conditioning) tend to collect fumes and dust and redistribute them throughout a home. The ducts, ductwork, filters and even walls and ceilings near the ductwork can be contaminated. Replace all of the air filters in the system, open and clean vents, clean the surfaces near system inlets and clean the system's ductwork. Plumbing may be contaminated from waste products being poured into drains or stools. These waste products can collect in the drains, traps and septic tanks and give off fumes.

What if you find suspicious containers or chemicals?

If you find suspicious containers or chemicals, do not attempt to handle them yourself. Leave the area and call local law enforcement or the fire department. Some items may have been overlooked in the search of the property by law enforcement or the cleanup contractor.

Why the concern about cleaning up clandestine labs?

Properties used to produce meth will usually have containers of chemicals such as solvents, ether, paint thinners, phosphorus, acids and bases, or anhydrous ammonia. Other lab equipment, cooking or storage containers, or heat sources may also be present. Typically, the contractor removes the bulk of any lab-related debris such as chemicals and containers after a lab is discovered by law enforcement. However, small amounts of chemicals may have contaminated surfaces, drains, sinks, ventilation systems and absorbent materials (couches, carpets, beds etc.). The meth lab contaminants may pose serious health threats to persons exposed to them. People can be exposed by breathing the air that may contain suspended contaminant particles as dust, by touching surfaces that are contaminated, by eating or drinking from glasses or dishes that have layers of contaminated grime, or by eating or smoking after their hands are in contact with contaminated areas. Furnace air filters and drains may also have contamination in them. Children should never be allowed into these areas until cleaning is finished.

Should testing be done after cleanup?

If you are concerned about any of the remaining contamination, after cleaning your residence or rental property, or if your property still has an odor, visible staining, or causes physical irritation to those exposed, it is advisable to have the property tested for chemical residues. Sampling is an expensive option but may provide peace of mind for property owners and families. You may want to contact your insurance carrier for advice and assistance.

Symptoms to exposure may include:

Less severe exposures can occur where people are living in, or have visited, homes formerly housing a clan-P lab. Off-gassing of contaminants absorbed by the structure and furnishings can occur for years. Resulting symptoms include:

Also, Metals and salts are used in the manufacturing process. Lead and mercury are particularly hazardous and can have serious multi-organ effects including neurological impairment.

Cleaning up the Meth: A 12-Step Process

  1. 1. Secure the Property
  2. 2. Ventilate
  3. 3. Assess & Test, Scope of Work
  4. 4. Develop a Cleanup Plan
  5. 5. Remove Contaminated Materials
  6. 6. Vacuum
  7. 7. Preliminary Washing of Hard Surfaces
  8. 8. Clean and Seal HVAC System
  9. 9. Thorough Detergent Water Washing
  10. 10. Consider Encapsulating Walls & Ceilings
  11. 11. Flush Plumbing & Septic Systems
  12. 12. Clearance Testing

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