Cleaning up the worst of the worst is kind of our bread and butter here at The BIOClean Team. Whether they’re after deaths, crimes, hoarding, or doing meth cleanup work, we do it all to our own high standards. Many of these have regulatory standards either state or federal that they must meet for the location to be considered livable again. Meth falls in a bit of a grey area as the standards vary on a state by state basi. The amount of residue of 0.1 ug/100cm2 is fine in Alaska with a written disclosure, while North Dakota doesn’t have any laws on the books for it. Some allow The EPA has a great document out on guidelines for meth lab cleanups but it’s a ‘voluntary’ guide, meaning states don’t have to use their suggestions. Confused? Don’t worry, we are here to help!
Meth Cleanup – Why it’s Needed, How it’s Done
Methamphetamine is a growing problem in America. NBC San Diego just did a write up on the situation, noting that San Diego was once the ‘meth capital of the world’ in the late 1980s. When those who are cooking it are busted, they leave behind a mess in the homes they use as laboratories. And it really is a mess that gets left behind.
Was Your Property a Meth Lab?
Over 50% of meth labs are found in rental properties. If you are a landlord and you see any of these telltale signs, you will want to call 911 immediately. Meth labs are dangerous, so don’t poke around yourself.
- The key ingredient in homemade meth, pseudoephedrine, is found in cold medicine. If you see a large number of cold medication containers or discarded packages, it’s a clear sign.
- Home meth labs are rarely sanitary. There is usually a strong chemical smell. If the meth lab is active it may smell like paint thinner or varnish, ether, sour or vinegary, or have a smell like ammonia.
- Glass kitchen ware, rubber tubing, funnels, rubber gloves, large plastic storage containers, plastic soda bottles, dust masks. These are all signs that someone’s been using the place as a lab.
Why Meth Cleanup is Necessary
Proper cleanup following a meth lab is absolutely vital for anyone to live in the home safely. Exposure to the residue can result in symptoms similar to those who use meth such as nose and throat irritation, dizziness, nausea, headaches The effects of long term exposure are under study but these symptoms alone are enough to warrant cleanup.
How Meth Cleanup Works
First the structure is going to be secured. This is to prevent any unauthorized access to the contaminated areas. The whole idea of meth lab cleanups is to limit the exposure that people endure so making sure no one can enter without the proper gear is crucial.
Ventilation plays a big part in the cleanup process. The HVAC systems will be shut down before and during the cleanup process to prevent it from circulating residue and recontamination. Airing out the labs will allow fresh air to move through the home and help in the removal of fumes and odors.
Initial tests and samples around the structure are an important way to find out just what needs cleaning and what may be too far gone to safely decontaminate. Then a plan is developed covering the scope of work, the level of PPE technicians will need, everything that will go into the job is planned out here.
Once a plan has been made and the cleanup techs are geared up it’s time to start! Removing the contaminated material is the first step, discarding remaining meth paraphernalia as well as pulling furniture and porous materials like carpet if necessary. The EPA suggestions are to then allow the structure to ventilate for 24 hours following this initial removal.
Using a commercial grade vacuum and HEPA filters to do an initial cleaning of the floors and walls. This will remove some residue but doesn’t decontaminate entirely. It’s a necessary step but far from the last!
Once everything has been vacuumed it’s time for hard surface washing. We use specifically formulate cleaners, not bleach (bleach can have a chemical reaction with the chemicals used to create meth and can create a toxic gas). There will be a few passes of cleaners, thoroughly rinsing after each wash, moving from ceilings to walls to floors.
Remember that HVAC system? Now is the time to ensure that it is clean. The ducts will need a testing to see if they are contaminated as well (they likely are). The HVAC system will be cleaned and sealed.
Flushing the plumbing and septic systems is a solid idea here as well. Meth chemicals are often flushed through drains and toilets, causing corrosion. If there is a large amount of chemical waste in a septic or private waste water system it can cause problems.
When it all is said and done, more tests will be taken to ensure that the levels of residue are below the state standard.
This has of course been a brief overview. There are an incredible number specifics to the tools, the cleaners, and the process that we put all meth cleanup projects through. We want to ensure that no matter the state of the home when you call, when we’re done you are satisfied and can safely resume living there. If you suspect your home has been used for a meth lab and need restoration done, you give us a call. #WeCleanTheScene