An Encounter With a Meth Lab May Be Closer Than You Think
A majority of Americans sit in their comfortable living rooms and offices and believe that they will never be in a ‘situation’ that would expose them to the dangers associated with methamphetamines. That’s just stuff you see on the news, right? Not necessarily. As they say, being forewarned is being forearmed and you certainly need to be well armed to get by a run-in with meth unscathed.
Almost 12 million Americans have tried meth at one time during their life, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health Report Methamphetamine Use, Abuse, and Dependence: 2002, 2003, and 2004, released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health sets Administration. Meth users and manufacturers include people from every lifestyle. Doctors, lawyers and dentists are no more exempt than factory workers or roofers.
Meth labs are encountered in neighborhoods from affluent to poor. Methamphetamine can be cooked virtually anywhere, and commercial buildings, homes, apartments, hotel rooms, trailers, barns, vans, and storage units are just a few of the structures used for labs. Although many are located in rural regions for concealment, meth labs can be found in urban and suburban areas.
The danger of fire and explosions is always immediate in meth lab operations and already after they’re dismantled, meth labs leave a poisonous trail of chemical dust and vapors that can pass by slowly into nearby spaces, including nearby homes, apartments, and hotel rooms. Walls, floors, toys, furniture, ventilating systems, plumbing fixtures, septic systems, and surrounding soil can be polluted and may require specialized decontamination.
Amongst those at risk of exposure are real estate agents, landlords, character managers, possible tenants and homebuyers, garbage collectors, utility workers, plumbers, social service agents, and first responders. Children living in the neighborhood of a meth lab can be placed at risk in addition. In fact, thousands of clandestine seizures every year include children. Visitors or neighbors can be injured by the toxic fumes that vent from meth labs or from the poisonous “cooking” debris that’s sometimes hid outside or flushed into a septic system.
The dangers that go along with meth homes include exposure to cancer causing chemicals that can saturate walls, carpets and other building materials in addition to all contents. rule and mercury are frequent by-products. Chemicals, such as solvents, may be disposed of in plumbing or just poured on the ground. If not removed properly these can cause various health problems. Respiratory problems, eye irritation, headaches, dizziness, and nausea are a few of the symptoms people may experience if they’re exposed to contaminants from a former meth lab site.
Encounters with Meth Users, or “Tweekers”, may not be a walk in the park either. Meth prompts intense paranoia and symptoms similar to OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder. Meth users may already save their urine in bottles stashed away in living areas to retrieve the unmetabolized meth from the urine. Meth users sometimes become obsessive about objects. They might disassemble things like appliances, watches or computers. The objects can sometimes be found in a pile dismantled down to the smallest part.
Most people with OCD are pretty harmless except to themselves. According to police reports, the paranoid meth user can be very dangerous. They’re frequently reported to have large, sometimes eccentric, weapon collections that may have large quantities of knives. Dangerous booby traps are often set up to protect the individuals meth stash.
So, how do you know when you’re in the presence of a meth lab or possible meth users? Here are just a few signs:
Meth lab signs:
o Yellow stains on walls, drains, sinks and showers
o Blue discolorations on valves of propane tanks and fire extinguishers
o Smoke detectors that are removed or taped off
o Having physical symptoms while inside the house, such as burning in your eyes or throat, itching, a metallic taste in your mouth and breathing problems
o disinctive strong odors that smell like materials from a garage, such as solvent and paint thinner, cat urine or ammonia o The use of security cameras and surveillance equipment
Signs that character owners should look for with their homes and tenants:
o Renters who behave strangely and are extremely thin, have open sores, bad teeth or enlarged pupils
o Extensive amounts of trash with items such as lithium batteries, torn-apart matchbooks, water bottles, cold medicine packs and antifreeze containers
o Stained coffee filters that are not brown
o Plexiglass or other dark-colored cookware
o Glass containers with two layered liquids and chemistry sets
Rapid Response BioDecon recommends that anyone with concerns about possible meth lab exposure ask local law enforcement to run a criminal check on the character and, if living in a rental unit or purchasing a home, request documentation that the character was decontaminated professionally.