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- Methamphetamine Resources
Methamphetamine, commonly called meth, is a powerful and highly addictive chemical substance that directly affects the body's central nervous system. It usually comes in several forms:
- A crystalline white powder that is odorless, bitter-tasting and dissolves easily in water or alcohol.
- Crystal methamphetamine that looks like glass fragments or shiny, bluish-white or other colored rocks.
People can take methamphetamine by smoking, swallowing, snorting, or injecting the drug.
Exposure and Clean Up Regulations
Methamphetamine contamination is possible in any place where a person uses meth, including public places, and is created when a person smokes meth. Contamination can be spread by touching contaminated surfaces. The residue is extremely sticky and can be difficult to clean.
Colorado statutes and regulations require that properties contaminated by meth use be cleaned up in accordance with standards established by the state Board of Health. These regulations were intended for residential properties and not commercial or public buildings.
Testing and Remediation
The state guidelines require remediation for any space at a very low threshold of detection in order to maintain safety and prevent health risks associated with exposure:
- Screening-level assessments: Required at properties where there is suspected or known methamphetamine contamination. These assessments are often performed voluntarily during property transactions. If any samples collected during a screening assessment are higher than 0.2 micrograms/100cm2, a more thorough preliminary assessment must be performed.
- Preliminary assessments: Required at properties where there is suspected or known methamphetamine contamination. If any samples from the preliminary assessment show levels above 0.5 micrograms/100cm2, the property must be remediated.
Screening-level and preliminary assessments for methamphetamine contamination must be performed by a state-certified consultant (industrial hygienist). Remediating (cleaning) methamphetamine-affected properties must also be performed by a state certified contractor that is independent from the consultant.
Clearance testing is conducted when remediation is complete, and Arapahoe County Public Health reviews the results to ensure that the property was remediated in accordance with state standards.
Learn more about testing in public and commercial buildings and get answers to frequently asked questions.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has guidelines based on an extensive review of the best available science and practices for cleanup.
Secondhand Exposure to Meth Contaminants
Health risks to the general public are considered low from secondary meth exposure in public spaces. Health risks are generally higher in houses, apartments, motel rooms, and vehicles where meth has been manufactured or used over long periods of time.
Exposure to the contaminants can cause:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Skin irritation
- Chemical burns
Infants and young children are most vulnerable. If you’ve been to a public place that has tested positive for meth, your chances of exposure or symptoms are very low. You should contact your primary care physician if you have concerns.
Dangers of Meth Production
Meth ingredients contain over the counter drugs, like pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, commonly found in cold medicine. Meth is often manufactured or “cooked” in unsophisticated laboratories by persons with no chemistry background. Cooking meth is not only illegal, but also dangerous and toxic.
The toxic chemicals used in the meth manufacturing process take a toll on the environment. Every pound of meth made can generate up to five pounds of toxic waste. The manufacturing process also generates toxic fumes which can severely harm anyone exposed to them.
- What is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine, commonly called “meth,” is a powerful, highly addictive and illicit drug that stimulates the brain’s reward center. Meth can be used by smoking, swallowing, snorting, or injecting and personal use of meth, though illegal, is prevalent throughout the United States and Colorado.
- Where does meth come from?
Methamphetamine is often manufactured or “cooked” in unsophisticated, secret home “laboratories” by persons with no chemistry background. Meth is also manufactured in large quantities outside the United States and illegally smuggled into the country.
- Is manufacturing meth dangerous?
Yes, the chemicals used to produce methamphetamine are toxic and extremely hazardous. Inhaling, ingesting, or contacting the chemicals used to manufacture meth can result in poisoning, illness or death. Also, some of the chemicals used to manufacture meth are highly volatile and may ignite or explode if mixed or stored improperly.
- When is a surface considered contaminated with meth?
Per the Colorado Regulations, a surface is considered contaminated when a certified sample returns a result measuring 0.5 ug/100cm2 or higher.
- If I suspect meth use in my building, am I required to test?
No, if you simply suspect that methamphetamine has been used in your facility, the regulation does not require you to perform testing.
- When am I required to test for meth?
The regulation requires that you test for methamphetamine when any one or more of the following three situations exist:
- Results collected by a certified consultant are positive,
- A law enforcement bust involving meth occurs at the property, or
- Documented evidence is provided confirming meth has been used, stored, processed, or manufactured within the property
- Can I sample my building myself using an at-home purchased test kit?
No, if sampling is required, “do-it-yourself” sampling is not allowed by Colorado Law. Instead, a certified contractor must be hired to perform the sampling work.
- The regulations require extensive testing. Does this apply to me?
The regulations were adopted with residential properties in mind. Applying the same regulations to large public or commercial buildings, particularly where testing requirements are concerned, can be onerous and costly. When testing is required, Colorado law allows larger commercial building to apply for a testing variance by submitting a request to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
- If I receive positive test samples, what do I need to do?
Per the Colorado Regulations, any surface known to be contaminated with meth must be properly decontaminated by a certified contractor. The contractor will perform decontamination and then conduct “clearance” testing. A certified sample with a result of less than 0.5 ug/100cm2 indicates a surface is no longer considered contaminated.
- Can I clean up meth contamination myself or require my employees to clean it?
No, special training and personal protective equipment is required to perform decontamination and surfaces know to be affected by meth must be decontaminated by Colorado certified decontamination experts.
- What is secondary exposure to meth and is it dangerous?
Breathing air or touching surfaces contaminated with methamphetamine residue is considered a secondary exposure. The risks associated with secondary exposure to meth have not been well studied and limited information is available. However, in large public or commercial buildings, the public health risk associated with secondary exposure to meth is considered low. In these settings, the risk is considered low because the established contamination limit is very conservative and exposure times are likely to be short.
- Should I test my building for meth just out of curiosity?
Because of the low risk to the public in large public or commercial buildings, Arapahoe County Public Health recommends against testing out of curiosity in these settings.
If you are considering testing for methamphetamine in a public place, even if you have not met the criteria to do so:
- Research how a positive testing result could impact your business.
- Have a plan in place ahead of time for how you will handle additional testing, possible remediation, and the financial and social impacts of closing affected areas to the public.