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Division of Waste Management
Superfund Branch

Methamphetamine Lab Cleanup

Cooking methamphetamine (meth) results in the release of ingredient chemicals, the precursor drugs (pseudoephedrine or ephedrine), meth in vapor and particle form and other largely unknown byproducts regardless of the cooking method used. Airborne contaminants are absorbed into soft materials including rugs, furniture, drapes, walls and other surfaces and may also contaminate the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system of the structure. Spills are common in meth labs, and may impact floors, walls, appliances and other surfaces. Potentially hazardous chemicals used in meth cooking may be dumped down the sinks, toilets or drains in the kitchen or bathrooms and leave contamination in the wastewater system.


During active meth cooking, law enforcement has found that levels of chemicals including iodine, phosphine and hydrochloric acid could exceed current occupational standards and large amounts of meth are also released into the air and have been found at levels up to 16,000 micrograms per 100 square centimeters on surfaces.


Chemicals may enter the body by inhalation, ingestion, injection (by a contaminated needle or accidental skin prick) or absorbed by the skin. Both acute (short term) and chronic (long term) health hazards result from the manufacturing of meth.  Acute exposure hazards come from direct contact with or inhalation of the meth product or wastes. Burns, tissue irritation and rashes may result from chemical spills and skin contact. Headaches, dizziness, nausea and other health effects may result from inhalation of vapors.

The Energy and Environment Cabinet, under the authority of KRS 224.01-410, established a reasonable, appropriate and protective tiered response system to address the level of decontamination services required for a contaminated property based on the degree of meth production and the degree of potential contamination resulting from meth production.

Also, the cabinet has set regulated standards for decontamination and for certification of cleanup contractors.