In all instances where an actual or suspected clandestine methamphetamine laboratory is to be investigated, a decontamination process should be established using current departmental protocol. The protocol should require the establishment of a"hot", "warm", and "cold" zone where the potential contamination due to the laboratory goes from potentially high contamination, to low contamination, and finally to no contamination.
Personnel Decontamination Procedures
The protocol should include the following:
- A requirement that all personnel entering the warm or hot zones be trained to participate in hazardous materials incidents and that they have the appropriate certification required by departmental, state and federal regulations or guidelines.
- A requirement that all personnel entering the warm or hot zones be appropriately protected by using the personal protective equipment specified earlier in this document.
- A requirement that all personnel and animals removed from the incident (investigators, suspects, children, pets) be appropriately decontaminated. Children that are involved should be decontaminated as outlined above. Adults and most animals can be decontaminated at the scene using a shower or other source of soap and warm water. The use of wipes for decontamination is discouraged since wipes only move contamination and allow for a more rapid uptake of methamphetamine though the skin
- If an explosion or accident has occurred, injured individuals can usually be transported directly to the hospital as long as the hospital is informed of the contaminated individuals being transported, the potential contamination, and in what condition they will arrive. The protocol for these instances should be developed prior to an emergency and should include other types of contamination (occupational, pesticide, radiation, biological, etc.) that may be encountered. In some cases, decontamination may be occurring as treatment begins.
- A requirement that all items removed from the suspected or actual laboratory be treated as contaminated and that all of these items must be decontaminated using a soap and water solution or be sealed so that contamination can't be transferred to other surfaces. Care should be taken in the transportation of sealed chemicals or items with a significant chemical odor since, despite the best efforts, these items may leak and injure individuals conducting the transportation. Ideally, these items will be transported in a truck or other conveyance that keeps the items separate from the transporters. Current state and federal Department of Transportation regulations should be consulted.
- A requirement that all officers, firefighters, and others at the scene be given time to shower and change to fresh clothing as soon as is practical after the incident. This applies to all individuals, regardless of the zone in which they were working.
In instances where a structure was only utilized for the use of methamphetamine and no production was conducted, decontamination procedures will generally not be necessary. Clothing from individuals living at that residence should likely be washed prior to moving them to another facility and porous items from the residence may be contaminated with low levels of methamphetamine.