Meth labs: Remediation and disclosure
Part 3: Agency responses

State health agencies are on the front line in combatting the hazards of meth production. In the early years of the meth problem, health agencies' first encounter with drug labs was often in assisting law enforcement personnel who entered the labs. Unaware of the dangers of meth production, these first responders needed to learn to protect themselves from the toxic chemicals, and agencies had to formulate guidelines for lab cleanup. With the proliferation of meth, state health agencies' responsibilities have expanded to include educating the public, training and certifying workers, tracking meth labs, and licensing decontamination contractors. Health agencies are not only one of the first on the scene but are also the last, if and when meth sites are declared safe for reoccupancy.

The Association of State and Territorial Health Organizations (ASTHO) issued an informative brief in June 2005, Cleaning-up Clandestine Methamphetamine Labs: the Role of State Public Health Agencies (PDF, 364K, 5p.). The report makes reference to the Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance (HSEES) system to collect and analyze information about releases of hazardous substances. (HSEES was established by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)). Fifteen state health departments currently have agreements with ATSDR to participate in HSEES. According to the ASTHO report, five states (Iowa, Missouri, New York, Oregon, and Washington) use HSEES to collect and analyze data about injuries and deaths related to meth labs.

A sampling of state agency activities:

California. California's Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) conducts two complementary programs: Clandestine Drug Lab Removals, for the emergency removal of chemicals and contaminated paraphernalia from labs, and a Clandestine Drug Lab Remediation Program, for assessing and cleaning up former meth lab sites.

Iowa. Iowa's Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) has published Guidelines for Cleaning up Former Methamphetamine Labs (PDF, 31K, 6p.), in a user-friendly, Q&A format.

Minnesota. Minnesota's Dept. of Health (MDH) provides a web site on Methamphetamine and Meth Labs, which includes links to lab cleanup, laws and ordinances, and tips for property owners.

Missouri. Missouri's Dept. of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has published Guidelines for Cleaning up Former Methamphetamine Labs (PDF, 625K, 8p.), virtually identical to Iowa's, but more user-friendly with color graphics.

New York. New York currently provides only general information on meth, but Gov. Pataki recently signed legislation for New York to take stronger steps. The new law directs the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) to establish a statewide education program on the dangers of using and producing meth, and for the Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to be notified when a meth lab is discovered so they can implement cleanup procedures.

Oregon. Oregon's Dept. of Human Services (DHS) has a Drug Lab Cleanup Program whose homepage provides links to licensed contractors, drug lab properties, cleanup procedures, and tips for property owners.

Tennessee. Tennessee's Dept. of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), under its Division of Remediation, Cleanup of Methamphetamine Contaminated Properties, has begun a Registry of Methamphetamine Contaminated Properties (PDF, 59K. 1p.).

Washington. Washington's Dept. of Health (DOH) has established a Clandestine Drug Lab Program whose home page, among a wealth of information, links to a Contaminated Properties List (Excel, 482K, 172p.)

This concludes the series.

Previous posts in Meth Labs: Remediation and Disclosure
   Part 1: Public Concerns
   Part 2: Legislative responses


Blogger Newlz said...

I believe that the Meth lab problem is largely out of control due to the lack of control over the Canadian Border. Every day tons of meth is driven, walked, shipped over the border with very little risk of any laws. Not that the law was ever going to stop any one. Lets not forget about the marijuana being trafficked through Canada. The latest trend is "legal" sites like http://www.legalbuds.org send marijuana seeds directly into US homes, yet nobody seems to be able to shut them down. If a company has a website, an isp and presumably a physical address, it should be simple to bust them, but it doesnt happen. What hope is there of stopping the hidden Meth dealers if we cant even catch those conducting business in public?


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