C-FERST Issue Profile: Methamphetamine Labs
Hazardous chemicals used to produce methamphetamine in illegal labs are risks to human and environmental health. Some of these chemicals are highly volatile, and may ignite or explode if mixed or stored improperly. Inhaling chemical vapors and gases from methamphetamine production can cause serious respiratory problems such as shortness of breath, chest pain, intoxication, dizziness, nausea, and pulmonary edema. The chemicals used in methamphetamine production can also cause serious burns if they contact the skin. Ingesting these chemicals by consuming contaminated food or beverages, for example, can result in fatal poisoning, internal chemical burns, and damage to organs, the nervous system, and the immune system.
Methamphetamine production also threatens the environment, since the average lab produces five to seven pounds of toxic waste for every pound of methamphetamine produced. Lab operators often dispose of this waste improperly, which can lead to contaminated soil and water supplies.
The U.S. EPA, under the 2007 Methamphetamine Remediation Research Act, published guidelines for cleaning up methamphetamine labs. To find out more about these guidelines or other information related to the hazards of methamphetamine labs, see the links below.