Making meth can produce pounds of toxic waste. Meth cooks often pour leftover chemicals and byproduct sludge down drains or directly onto the ground. The toxic byproducts left after making meth pose long-term hazards because they can be present in soil and groundwater for years.
The houses, trailers, barns and other buildings where meth is made must be cleaned up before any human being can safely be there again. The removal and handling of evidence and hazardous waste is very expensive and can cost thousands of dollars. In some instances, a meth lab can cause such serious contamination that the structure where the lab was must be incinerated.
Common roadside trash or the remnants of a methamphetamine lab? News reports from across the country show it's important to be knowledgeable about what meth-lab litter looks like. Litter discarded from meth labs can be found along highways, under bridges and in other unexpected places, such as wooded areas and abandoned cars. Meth-lab litter is potentially toxic and should never be picked up or smelled.
Some common methamphetamine-lab waste items include:
- Empty packages of cold/allergy medicine
- Containers attached to tubing (usually with duct tape)
- Unused matches without the striker plate
- Kitty litter bags
- Propane tanks, coolers or thermoses that smell of ammonia
- Empty chemical containers such as alcohol, antifreeze, acetone, drain cleaner and starter fluid
- Gas cans
- Turkey basting wands
- Pyrex or glass containers with remnants of dried chemicals
- Rags with yellow and/or red stains
- Funnels, hosing and clamps
If you suspect that you've come across meth-lab litter, move away from the area and call 911. Do not smell any of the waste items, and do not open any coolers or other containers.