What wastes are created during the manufacture of methamphetamine?
Cooking generates a variety of noxious solvents and gases, such as hydrogen chloride, phosphine, and meth itself. For each pound of meth produced, approximately five pounds of toxic waste are left behind.

What are typical signs of a clandestine methamphetamine lab?
  • Strong odors similar to fingernail polish, cat urine, or ammonia
  • Iodine- or chemical-stained fixtures in kitchen and bath
  • Propane tanks with blued fittings
  • Excessive trash that includes large amounts of discarded containers/packaging for cold medicine containing ephedrine/pseudoephedrine, drain cleaner, antifreeze, denatured alcohol, lantern fuel, and red-stained coffee filters
  • Bottles or jars with glass tubing
  • Stained soil or dead vegetation
  • Black plastic over windows
Can I perform a preliminary check for methamphetamine residue?
Yes, a product can be purchased from SKC. The product name is MethAlert and uses color wipes to detect methamphetamine residue.

MethAlert Color Wipe Kit *

MethAlert can establish the presence of meth residue on surfaces from 15 to 5000 micrograms/100 cm2. Following are examples of how MethAlert can be used:
  • Law enforcement determining if meth has been recently cooked or smoked in a suspect area.
  • Social services personnel determining if meth has been cooked or smoked in a case home where children reside.
  • Industrial hygienists or sanitarians called to investigate a suspect property for extent of contamination.
  • Landlords testing for possible contamination in leased properties.
  • A quick check for consultants determining travel of contamination in multi-room buildings that share an HVAC system such as hotels, apartments, and storage units.
  • Firefighters or other first-responders checking non-disposable PPE to verify decontamination after responding to a meth lab site.
  • Checking police cars or processing areas with meth suspects.
MethAlert Advantages
*MethAlert is a colorimetric test that detects the presence of methamphetamine residue on surfaces from 15 to 5000 micrograms/cm2. Results should not be used for clearance purposes. AMRC does not endorse the MethAlert product and is only supplying this for informational purposes only.

Who is responsible for cleaning up the contamination?
Typically during a drug bust the law enforcement agency will collect the large manufacturing items; however cleanup of the residence and property is the responsibility of the property owner.

What are the health effects from exposure to methamphetamine residues?
The potential health effects depend on
  • the specific chemicals to which a person is exposed
  • how much of each chemical to which a person is exposed,
  • how long a person is exposed, and
  • the health condition of the person being exposed.
Exposure to meth residues may cause symptoms similar to those experienced by meth users.

Exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) may cause symptoms such as nose and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, confusion and breathing difficulties. Benzene is a VOC known to cause cancer. Acids or bases will cause a burning sensation on the skin and in mucous membranes, and can cause severe eye damage. Exposure to metals and salts can cause a wide range of health effects including respiratory irritation, decreased mental function, anemia, kidney damage and birth defects. Methamphetamine residues can be present in rooms were the drug has not manufactured, but consumed only.