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Sampling for clandestine drugs after remediation.

The production of illegal drugs, a growing problem in the United States, has been developing into a crisis for law enforcement all over the country. In 2002, the Drug Enforcement Administration reported that meth lab raids were on the rise, with approximately 9,000 raids in that year as compared with 800 in 1995.

The use and sale of these drugs also creates environmental, social, and economic problems. For every pound of methamphetamine produced, 5 to 6 pounds of toxic waste are left behind. Makeshift laboratories can be found throughout the United States in houses, apartments, motels, trailers, sheds, and even automobiles.

In several states, drug enforcement and public health agencies have effectively supported new legislation designed to deal with the contamination crisis. Washington, Arizona, Missouri, and Illinois are among many states that have already passed such legislation. Thus, Arizona House Bill 2595 (HB2595), enacted July 1, 2003, establishes procedures for notification, remediation, and enforcement in the cleanup of illegal drug laboratories. It clearly defines responsibilities and appropriate processes following discovery of a home, RV, or other facility used in the making of illegal drugs. Provisions of these new laws also make disclosure violations, property entry, and removal of any affixed notice a felony. Arizona HB2595, for example, includes the following language:
 It is unlawful for any unauthorized person to enter the residually
 contaminated portion of the real property.... The owner shall notify
 the buyer in writing that methamphetamine, ecstasy or LSD was
 manufactured on the real property.... A person who knowingly violates
 an order or notice of removal that is issued by a peace officer under
 this section is guilty of a Class 6 felony. A person who knowingly
 disturbs a notice of removal posted on the real property is guilty of
 a Class 2 misdemeanor.

This language affects landowners, real estate agents, inspectors and investigators, and anyone involved in the sale of property previously involved with illegal drug labs.

After the equipment and chemicals from an illegal drug laboratory have been removed, residue from the various chemicals may still be present in the building on surfaces, furnishings, or household items. Some of the substances that were present while the laboratory was active, such as gases and volatile solvents, may have dissipated rapidly with ventilation. Areas where significant spills and saturation occurred will, however, likely retain residual amounts. Also, nonvolatile materials such as drug residues, other solids, or water-based solutions of nonvolatile materials may persist on the surfaces and require additional cleanup. Finally, the dangerous by-products generated from the ingredients pose serious environmental hazards that can persist in the soil and groundwater for years. These environmental effects can cost the U.S. government, as well as property owners, millions of dollars. Therefore, proper removal techniques are required.

Sampling for contaminants is an important factor in proper remediation procedures. Improper remediation may result in the need for further sampling and remediation, which can increase the costs. All samples should be obtained from areas representative of the materials or surfaces being tested. The samples should be obtained, preserved, and handled in accordance with industry standards. Refer to the Arizona Board of Technical Registration at for the types of samples to be taken and the analytical testing to be conducted and maintained under chain-of-custody protocol. Whatman[R] 40 ashless filter paper or equivalent should be used for all wipe sampling.

* Three 10 cm X 10 cm areas (100 m[m.sup.2]) should be wipe-sampled in each room of the residually contaminated portion of the real property.

* Three 10 cm X 10 cm areas (100 m[m.sup.2]) from different areas of the ventilation system should be wipe-sampled.

* If there is a kitchen, bathroom, or cleaned appliance in the residually contaminated portion of the real property, three 10 cm X 10 cm areas (100 m[m.sup.2]) should be wipe-sampled from a combination of areas.

* Plumbing, septic, sewer, and soil samples may require additional testing.

Aerotech and Precision Analytical Laboratories offer analyses for the following substances: red phosphorus, iodine crystals, methamphetamine, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, VOCs in air and water, corrosives, LSD, ecstasy, lead, and mercury. Call Precision Analytical at (866) 772-5227 or Aerotech at (800) 651-4802 for a free sampling kit.

Technical Briefs presents short but information-packed items on a variety of field-related topics in environmental health. The information this month is provided courtesy of two sister corporations that specialize in environmental health laboratory testing: Precision Analytical Laboratories, Inc., and Aerotech Laboratories, Inc., both based in Phoenix, Arizona. Readers interested in receiving additional information about Precision Analytical Laboratories and Aerotech Laboratories, including information about how to subscribe to a free "Tech Tips" listserv for environmental health professionals, can contact Aerotech Laboratories/Precision Analytical Laboratories at 2020 West Lone Cactus Drive, Phoenix, AZ 85027. Aerotech and Precision also can be reached by phone at (800) 651-4802 or (623) 780-4800; by fax at (623) 780-7695; or on the Internet at or
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Title Annotation:Technical Briefs
Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Date:Mar 1, 2004
Previous Article:Statutory presumption, more on statutes of limitations, and the concept of "closely regulated industries".
Next Article:Water and wastewater lessons learned from the blackout.

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