If you've recently purchased a property that was once used to manufacture methamphetamine, you know you'll have to clean up the mess before you can do anything else with it.
Meth residue is a major health risk to anyone exposed to it, so cleaning up the aftermath is crucial, and you must be careful and protect your own health every step of the way.
Cleaning up a meth lab is not easy, but it's also not impossible if you know what needs to be done. Any clean-up efforts must be efficient, focused, and thorough.
Whether you actually have to clean up a former meth lab or if you're simply curious about the process to do so, read on. This post will explain step-by-step what a meth lab clean-up entails.
Meth Labs Are Dangerous
Before you even consider cleaning up a meth lab, you must understand the risks involved in doing so. Meth labs are dangerous places.
First of all, the chemicals used in the production of methamphetamine are volatile and are often explosive. As meth has become more popular over the past decade, the number of fires and explosions related to meth production has increased by a lot. There have been thousands of these incidents nationwide over the past ten years.
A fire or explosion can occur during a routine meth lab clean-up, and anyone working on that clean-up needs to know how to keep the chances of these occurrences low. They also must know how to respond if a fire ignites.
Second, during the production of methamphetamine, dangerous and toxic chemicals have settled in the room and have attached themselves to every surface. Individuals working on a meth lab clean-up must wear comprehensive protective gear. Without protection, these individuals may find themselves coughing and feeling nauseous and they may experience dizziness. Exposure to these chemicals may also result in chemical burns. In a worst-case scenario, inhalation of these chemicals could even lead to death.
Meth Lab Clean-Up Regulations
Each state has its own list of meth lab clean-up regulations and guidelines to determine what needs to be done to prepare a former meth lab space for re-use. The Environmental Protection Agency offers a list of Voluntary Guidelines for Methamphetamine Laboratory Cleanup upon which each state bases its regulations, but the EPA does not oversee clean-ups on a federal level.
To ensure that your clean-up is done correctly and meets state requirements, you must consult your state regulations, but the EPA's publication is a great place to start.
In most cases regulatory agencies require steps to be followed and inspections performed by a professional prior to any person entering a meth lab for remediation activities. All areas must be cleared by a licensed professional and approved by the lead regulatory agency prior to the public re-entering the building.
Cleaning Up a Meth Lab: Step-by-Step
No matter where you live or own property, the process is similar. The steps below will provide you with a thorough general overview of how to clean up a methamphetamine laboratory.
Step 1: Make Sure the Property Is Safe
As mentioned above, cleaning up a meth lab is dangerous. In addition to the possibility of fires and explosions and the exposure to toxic chemicals, some meth producers create booby traps to keep their property safe, and hazardous equipment and chemicals may still be present in the building. The space should be checked by local law enforcement before anyone else enters.
Step 2: Air It Out
A meth lab is usually a closed space and the windows and doors have likely been closed tight for weeks, months, or even years. Open them all and let in some fresh air. Make sure HVAC systems are turned off so chemical residues are not further circulated around the building.
Step 3: Test the Space and Create a Plan
Before you begin the actual cleaning process, test the space for chemicals to determine the most contaminated areas. Then, develop a plan of attack. Determine how many people will be needed for the clean-up, a timeline for the clean-up process, and the methods that will be used to clean. If some things cannot be cleaned, plan for a method of safe disposal for those items.
Step 4: Cleaning
Once you have completed the above steps, it's time to get started.
Remove all furniture items from the space and put them outside. Vacuum all floors with a commercial-grade vacuum cleaner.
Wash all hard surfaces with a non-flammable cleaning fluid and water. Don't use bleach; it can react with the toxic chemicals that are present to create an even more toxic gas. Change the water frequently for the best results.
After you've cleaned everything once, you should do it all over again. In fact, if you can do it three times, that's even better. This may seem like a lot of work, but it is absolutely necessary to make the space usable again.
Step 5: Clean Air and Water Systems
Because of the way that they function, the HVAC system on the property is full of chemical residues. You will need to have the ducts professionally cleaned by an HVAC professional.
The same goes for the plumbing and septic systems. Hazardous chemicals are often poured into sinks and flushed down toilets. Thus can cause a great deal of damage to these systems; you will need to have them checked and perhaps even repaired by a professional plumber. If damage is visible, you will need to replace sinks, toilets, and bathtubs as well.
Step 6: Paint
You can repaint the space to cover up chemical residues as well, but this should only be done after a complete and total cleaning. Also, it's safer to spray on a new layer of paint instead of brushing or rolling it on.
Step 7: Re-Test
You will need proof to show that your clean-up process was effective in eliminating contamination and that you were able to return the space to habitable. Tests should be conducted by a trained and independent agent for clarity and accuracy. If it turns out that you did not meet the standards, then you can try cleaning the space again. However, it may be a lost cause; some meth labs simply need to be demolished.
Cleaning Up a Meth Lab Isn't Easy
It's not easy to clean up a meth lab, but it can be done in most cases. If you follow the steps above and adhere to your state's regulations and recommendations, you can make a property useable and even livable again. Take your time and pay close attention to details and you can find success.
If you need a meth lab clean-up on your property, let HCI do it for you. their employees are highly trained in safety and in the removal of and disposal of chemicals and they have specific meth lab clean-up experience. Please contact them today for a quote. They can't wait to meet you and help you with your problem.