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Crystal Meth Labs
Those living near a meth lab are at risk from the chemical fumes and potential explosions due to the highly volatile nature of the chemicals used. Even people moving into a house that used to be near a meth lab are at risk. The chances of encountering a meth lab are small, and awareness is your best protection, however these dangers are real and it is important to know what the signs of a Meth lab are. The chemicals found in a meth lab are often toxic or flammable, and they must be cleaned up by a private company contracted by law enforcement officials. According to ABLE CLEAN-UP TECHNOLOGIES, INC. of Spokane Washington, some signs that you may have a meth lab in your neighborhood include:

Warning Signs Of Living Near A Lab
  • Increased activity, especially at night
  • Strong odor of solvents
  • Residences with windows blacked out
  • Increased activity, especially at night
  • Excessive trash
  • Iodine or chemical stained bathroom or kitchen fixtures
  • Renters who pay their landlords in cash

Common Meth Lab Supplies
  • Plastic tubing
  • Ammonia
  • Mason jars
  • Propane tanks (sometimes spray-painted or burned, with bent or tampered valves)
  • Funnels, rock salt, iodine
  • Lithium batteries
  • Camp stove fuel
  • Glass containers
  • Empty pill bottles
  • Empty cans of toluene, alcohol or paint thinner
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Ephedrine or pseudoephedrine tablets
  • Starter fluid
  • Coffee filters with red stains
Do not enter a site that you suspect may have be used for cooking meth. Labs present extreme dangers from explosions and exposure to hazardous chemicals. Breathing the fumes, and handling substances, can cause injury and even death. Drug labs are considered hazardous waste sites and should only be entered by trained and equipped professionals.

Never handle materials that may have been used for making meth, such as contaminated glassware and needles. Skin contact can result in poisoning or burns. Handling items can sometimes cause some of the chemicals to explode on contact with water or air.

How to Recognize a Meth Lab
While most meth labs are generally hidden in apartments and houses, meth labs can be set up at campgrounds, rest areas, rental homes, motel rooms, hotels, abandoned cars, garages, storage sheds, barns, vacant buildings, or even a suitcase.

A typical meth lab is a collection of chemical bottles, hoses and pressurized cylinders. The cylinders can take many forms, from modified propane tanks to fire extinguishers, scuba tanks and soda dispensers. The tanks contain anhydrous ammonia or hydrochloric acid - both highly poisonous and corrosive. Labs are frequently abandoned, leaving behind potentially explosive and very toxic chemicals behind. Chemicals are also sometimes burned or dumped in woods or along roads.

Typical cleanup costs for a meth lab are between $4000 and $10000 (NCDOJ, 2004). According to one local drug task force agent interviewed recently, some of the gases produced in a clandestine meth lab are instantly deadly if inhaled. Children playing, eating and sleeping in a meth lab are surrounded by the deadly gases. All adults and children removed from a meth lab are showered, decontaminated, and dressed in haz/mat suits before they are removed from the area. Children living at, or near a meth lab are exposed to immediate dangers and to the on going effects of chemical contamination. The extent of the lasting or long-term physical effects on meth users or their children who are exposed to a meth lab are not known