Suggestions for the following entries are made:
1. Planned entry into a known meth lab
Planned entry into a known meth use situation
3. Inadvertent entry into a meth lab
Planned Entry into a Known or Suspected Clandestine Methamphetamine Lab:
- Initial entry into a known or suspected methamphetamine laboratory should be conducted by law enforcement officers certified to enter hazardous chemical incidents wearing positive-pressure self-contained breathing apparatus in which they have been trained to conduct tactical operations.
- If possible, entry should be conducted using suits that provide chemical and fire protection. If this is not possible for security purposes, the officers should plan on washing their tactical gear after the operation with soap and water if possible. Cross-contamination of vehicles and personal automobiles may be reduced by officers donning disposable booties and protective coveralls until the clothing that they were wearing can be removed and decontaminated.
- Disposable gloves should be worn by all officers to reduce skin uptake and contact with acids, solvents, and methamphetamine. However, officers should be instructed not to remove any chemicals from the scene until completely protected with chemical and fire protective clothing, self-contained breathing apparatus, chemical resistant boots, and impermeable gloves.
- Officers entering a known or suspected clandestine methamphetamine laboratory prior to chemical removal for investigation should be clan lab certified and wear self-contained breathing apparatus, a chemical and fire resistant suit, chemically resistant gloves, and sturdy boots. All PPE openings should be sealed with a chemically resistant tape and individuals should work in pairs.
- Officers entering a known or suspected clandestine methamphetamine lab after all hazardous chemicals, death bags, etc. have been removed may reduce respirator requirements to an air purified respirator using either a powered air purifying respirator (PAPR) or a full-face respirator with a NIOSH approved respirator cartridge. The respirator cartridges should be approved for the expected exposures and will typically be law enforcement CBRN cartridges (chemical, biological, and radiological). The approved cartridges can be found in the respirator manufacturer’s information.
- As individuals are leaving the laboratory, the outside of the protective clothing should be decontaminated or removed in such a manner so as to limit the cross-contamination of street clothing. This may be accomplished using many different methodologies and should be conducted using departmental procedures.
Planned Entry Into a Known or Suspected Methamphetamine Use Situation:
- After the operation, officers, firefighters, and anyone involved in the operation should be instructed to wash all street clothing worn into or around the laboratory using warm water and detergent in a washing machine. This can be accomplished at the station or at home, depending upon departmental policy.
- Unless it is known that methamphetamine is currently being "smoked" in the house, the use of a respirator should not be necessary. If possible, protective coveralls and disposable gloves should be worn to reduce contamination of clothing, equipment, and vehicles however, it is not likely that the levels of contamination present will pose a significant health risk.
- If individuals are expected to be "smoking" methamphetamine at the time of entry, the use of a full-face respirator and protective outer clothing is indicated if possible. If this is not possible, entry should be conducted and then personnel should leave the area as soon as possible and the area ventilated prior to re-entry.
- During the investigation phase, a respirator should not be necessary but protective outer clothing should be worn to limit contamination. If during the investigation any evidence of a clandestine methamphetamine laboratory is found, investigators should immediately leave the area and revert to the procedures outlined for entry into a known or suspected clandestine methamphetamine laboratory.
- If protective outer clothing has not been used, then clothing should be washed in a washing machine using detergent and warm water as soon as possible or according to departmental policy. This may be done at home or at another place designated by the department.
- If there is a concern regarding contamination, an outer protective covering can be put on to reduce transfer of contamination to a vehicle while in transit, however significant cross contamination is not likely.
Inadvertent Entry into a Clandestine Methamphetamine Laboratory:
- In some instances, a law enforcement officer, social services investigator or other responder may enter an active, "cooking" laboratory without prior knowledge. If chemical odors are obvious, it is important to leave as soon as possible. Exposures to the chemicals used in an operating clandestine methamphetamine laboratory may result in exposures that are life threatening. Long-lasting health effects may occur within minutes.
- Immediately after exiting the active laboratory and calling for help, the officer or investigator should notify their department of what happened. If the individual has any symptoms, consideration should be given to an immediate transport to the emergency room for treatment. If clothing was significantly contaminated or spills occurred, the clothing should be removed as soon as possible and clean clothing donned. This will reduce skin absorption and lower the overall exposures. If a shower is available at the scene in a timely fashion, it should be utilized by the individual to remove any skin contamination. If a shower is not available, then the individual should be allowed to go to a location where a shower and a change of clothes can be obtained.
- In most situations, an officer or investigator will be entering an inactive clandestine methamphetamine laboratory. In this case, the exposures are not likely to result in a significant immediate health risk although contamination is likely. The individual should exit the area when possible and consider decontamination. Vehicle contamination can be limited by wearing coveralls for the drive away from the scene or simply sitting on a plastic bag may also help. Significant contamination of the vehicle is not likely. The individual should, however, go to a place where the outer clothing can be taken off and washed in a washing machine with warm water and detergent. This can be accomplished at home or at another location set by department policy.
- Any items removed from the suspected methamphetamine laboratory should be considered as contaminated and stored in a location that does not result in continued exposure. The items should be labeled as contaminated and sealed to prevent accidental exposure to individuals.