Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Moral Panic - Meth Lab Decontamination Compared to Lead

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, Volume 6, Issue 3 March 2009 , pages 151 - 156

Residual Methamphetamine in Decontaminated Clandestine Drug Laboratories
Authors: Glen Patrick a; William Daniell b; Charles Treser b
a Washington State Department of Health, Office of Environmental Health Assessments, Olympia, Washington
b Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

This pilot cross-sectional study examined three previously decontaminated residential clandestine drug laboratories (CDLs) in Washington State to determine the distribution and magnitude of residual methamphetamine concentrations relative to the state decontamination standard. A total of 159 discrete random methamphetamine wipe samples were collected from the three CDLs, focusing on the master bedroom, bathroom, living room, and kitchen at each site. Additional samples were collected from specific non-random locations likely to be contacted by future residents (e.g., door knobs and light switches). Samples were analyzed for methamphetamine by EPA method 8270 for semivolatile organic chemicals. Overall, 59% of random samples and 75% of contact point samples contained methamphetamine in excess of the state decontamination standard (0.1 μ g/100 cm2). At each site, methamphetamine concentrations were generally higher and more variable in rooms where methamphetamine was prepared and used. Even compared with the less stringent standard adopted in Colorado (0.5 μ g/100cm2), a substantial number of samples at each site still demonstrated excessive residual methamphetamine (random samples, 25%; contact samples, 44%). Independent oversight of CDL decontamination in residential structures is warranted to protect public health. Further research on the efficacy of CDL decontamination procedures and subsequent verification of methods is needed.

BrooklynDodger(s) comment: The Dodger(s) would like the see the risk assessment supporting the 0.1 or the 0.5 ug/100 cm2 clearance limit. Limits are easily set when there's no critique. The Dodger(s) note that amphetamines are given to pilots to improve their performance. Back of the envelope: the lead clearance level for floors is 40 ug/ft2 which computes to 40ug/900 cm2 which computes to 9.5 ug/100 cm2. For windowsills the clearance level is about 60 ug. Does anyone seriously believe that cumulative toxic potency of meth is 100 times that of lead?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The problem is not just the toxicity level - though amphetamine is different to methamphetamine - but the likelihood of transmission. In the case of lead, the most likely pathway to adverse effects is through ingestion, or through dust particles entering mucous membranes. For meth, while those pathways are also a problem, there is the additional problem of noxious gases. These gases come not only from the meth, but also from the chemicals used in its manufacture. Levels have been set based on risks associated with exposure to those other chemicals as much as to meth. However, I think the article you cite is addressing a separate issue. While the "safe" level of contamination is certainly debatable (and varies from state to state) the question this article addresses is whether that level of decontamination is achievable, or, if it is achievable, whether the companies/organisations/people who are claiming to decontaminate are actually doing so.