Why You Should Never Attempt Meth Lab Cleanup

⋅Never Attempt Meth Lab Cleanup Yourself⋅

Most of the meth-lab cleanups to which we are called are rental properties. We usually get the call from a bewildered landlord, apartment-complex manager, or motel manager who had no idea what his tenants were doing until the property was swarming with police. Occasionally, we get the call from someone purchasing a property that was a former meth lab or from someone who purchased a former meth house that was improperly cleaned. Before a former meth lab can be safely inhabited, it must be thoroughly and professionally cleaned and decontaminated.

Especially at risk for contamination by the chemicals present in former meth labs are children because they have small, developing bodies and a tendency to touch contaminated surfaces and objects and to put things in their mouths.

Meth labs are commonly set up in homes, apartments, trailers, motel rooms, even automobiles, and the chemicals used to manufacture meth are volatile and lethal. They leave the entire structure and all of its furnishings contaminated long after the chemicals themselves are removed from the premises by law enforcement. That’s because the chemicals permeate the structure itself and all of its furnishings.

According to the EPA, simply smoking meth contaminates a structure and its furnishings.

Under no circumstances should a layman even enter a former meth lab, much less attempt to clean one up.

EPA guidelines state that no one should enter a former meth lab unless the individual has the proper training and the proper PPE (personal protection equipment), which includes filtered respirators. These guidelines are just the beginning of the many reasons why you should never attempt meth lab cleanup yourself.

Why Are Former Meth Labs Dangerous?

Even though law enforcement removes the gross chemicals from a meth lab, every pound of meth that is cooked produces six pounds of toxic waste that the cookers dump into drains and toilets or dump outdoors into the soil or a water source. This waste contains the same lethal chemicals as the drug itself. Additionally, surfaces like floors, walls, countertops, and furniture are contaminated with the lethal chemicals used in making meth.

Approximately 32 chemicals are commonly used to produce meth.

They include battery acid, drain cleaner, engine starter, lithium batteries, anhydrous ammonia, lye, gun-cleaning solvent, gasoline additives, lantern fuel, insecticides, and antifreeze, all of which are corrosive, explosive, flammable, toxic, and possibly radioactive.

Meth labs are also sometimes booby trapped with things like explosives and trip wires.

 What Does Advanced Bio Treatment Do?

Advanced Bio Treatment strictly follows the EPA “Voluntary Guidelines for Methamphetamine Laboratory Cleanup” when we remediate a property that was a former meth lab. We also adhere to all OSHA, state, and federal guidelines.

After law enforcement completes its investigation and the gross chemical, we begin the cleanup, which includes all the following:

  • Secure the property so that no one can enter until the cleanup is finished.
  • Properly ventilate the structure before, during, and after cleanup.
  • Perform a preliminary assessment during which we determine
    • Primary areas of contamination: Advanced Bio Treatment professionals are experts in identifying contaminated areas that are not always visible.
    • Cooking methods used and chemicals found on premises: Cooking methods are crucial in determining what cleaning chemicals to use.
    • What can be cleaned and what must be discarded: Not all contaminated items can be brought to a local landfill, and some state guidelines require contaminated items to be wrapped and sealed before removal.
    • The extent of contamination to plumbing systems: Meth chemicals are often poured down drains during cooking and remain in the traps of sinks and drains. Meth chemicals aren’t always flushed away. If a plumbing line is low or the chemicals were flushed into a septic system, those chemicals may still be present. In smaller wastewater systems shared by apartments or condominiums, the chemicals may still be present.
    • The extent of contamination to HVAC systems: Fumes, dust, and contaminants have most likely collected in vents and duct work. Sometimes duct work cannot be cleaned and has to be replaced.
    • If there is any outdoor contamination to the soil and groundwater: If the meth chemicals were dumped outside, the soil and groundwater may be contaminated.
  • Remove contaminated materials.
  • Vacuum walls, floors, and ceilings using a HEPA-filtered vacuum.
  • Complete initial washing of walls, floors, and ceilings.
  • Clean and seal HVAC system. The HVAC system should not be turned on until all cleaning is complete.
  • Flush plumbing and clean plumbing fixtures.
  • Complete second washing of walls, floors, ceilings, and any other non-porous items that will be kept.

Should you ever find yourself in the shocking position of having your property used as a meth lab, for your safety, never attempt meth lab cleanup on your own; please trust the professionals at Advanced Bio Treatment. Protect future inhabitants of your home, protect your investment, and protect yourself. Call Advanced Bio Treatment at 800-295-1684 for a free quote.

The Horrors of Pedestrian Accidents Along Railroad Tracks

⋅Stay off the Tracks!⋅

One of the most horrific and tragic jobs we are called to is a suicide or pedestrian accident along railroad tracks. Most of the time, the victim is very young, like the teenager who lost his life on the tracks we were hired to clean a few months ago near Tampa, Florida.

Trevor was about to turn 15.

He was taking a shortcut to his best friend’s house, which involved walking along the tracks for a few hundred feet before jumping off and taking a short path through the woods that led to his friend’s neighborhood. As Trevor walked around a deep curve with woods on both sides of the tracks, he could not see around the curve. He apparently didn’t hear the train coming toward him and didn’t see it until seconds before it hit him. The railroad company that hired us said that the engineer saw the boy as the train came around the curve, about a minute before impact, and blew the train’s horn.

He remembered that the boy was wearing headphones and, seeing the train, lurched sideways just as the train hit him.

When someone is killed by a train, engineers and other employees clean up the train at the next stop. The coroner’s office removes the body from the tracks but not the trauma left on the tracks. Body parts and blood can be carried hundreds of feet down tracks. These are almost always terrible, gruesome scenes.

After Trevor’s body was removed and we began the cleanup, we found trauma evidence not only at the impact site but for almost a quarter of a mile down the track as the train dragged Trevor’s body. It had taken the train just over a mile to stop.

The worst thing, however, was seeing the memorial that Trevor’s family and friends had constructed along the tracks.

That told us his family and friends had seen what we were cleaning up; what we would like to have spared them.

Statistics for Pedestrian Encounters on Railroad Tracks

These accidents happen far more frequently than you might think.

More than 7,200 pedestrians have been killed on railroad tracks since 1997. Another 6,400 have been injured. In 2013, 488 pedestrians died on railroad tracks in the United States. On average, 500 people a year are killed on railroad tracks in the United States.

Approximately every three hours, an individual or a vehicle is hit by a train in the United States.

Pedestrian fatalities on railroad tracks include people, especially teenagers, taking shortcuts or people simply out walking. Pedestrian fatalities also include suicides. What most people don’t know is that trains are permitted by law to travel at the posted track speed, which is set by the Federal Railroad Administration, even past neighborhoods and schools. Engineers generally blow the horn and immediately slow down when they see a pedestrian, expecting the pedestrian to get out of the way. By the time an engineer can distinguish a human being on a track, he is often too close to stop the train before impact.

Did you know?

  • It takes a mile or more for a train to stop.
  • Walking on or alongside railroad tracks is illegal. Pedestrians on or alongside railroad tracks are trespassing.
  • Wearing headphones or talking on cell phones while you’re walking on or near railroad tracks exponentially increases the danger of being hit.
  • Trains are not as loud as you think. Even when you’re looking and listening for a train, you may not hear it until it is too late. Hundreds of people every year do not hear trains in time to avoid being hit. Passenger trains and modern railcars are very quiet. If the tracks are in a wooded area, the trees further buffer the sound.

Pedestrian railroad accidents are completely avoidable. They don’t have to happen.

If you’re a parent, be aware of railroad tracks near your home or your child’s school. Talk to your children about the dangers of walking on or near railroad tracks and especially about the added danger of being distracted by electronic devices.

Encourage the young people in your life to observe railroad safety.

Better yet, encourage them to avoid walking on, along, or across railroad tracks altogether.

Railroad Safety Resources:

http://oli.org/

https://www.aar.org/todays-railroads/safety

http://www.safeny.ny.gov/kids/kid-rail.htm

 

 

When & How to Clean Up Blood Spills

⋅Blood Spills: When Can I Clean Them Myself?⋅

According to OSHA and the CDC, all bodily fluids are potentially contaminated with blood-borne pathogens: bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Federal regulations state that all bodily fluids are considered bio-hazards because blood may carry the deadly HIV or Hepatitis pathogens for which there is no cure. For more information on these deadly diseases, please see our blog entitled The Dangers of Blood-borne Pathogens Explained.

So when is it safe to clean up blood spills or other bodily fluids yourself?

There is no specific answer to this question. We recommend that you attempt to clean up blood spills yourself only under these conditions:

  • The amount of blood is small enough that you can clean it by yourself with a few sheets of paper towel very quickly. Remember, the longer you are in contact with blood-borne pathogens and the chemicals used to kill them, the higher the risk of permeation to your protective clothing.
  • There are no sharps (anything with sharp edges, such as broken glass, razors, knives, needles) in the area.
    • If you find a sharp in the area, NEVER touch it with your bare hands. If it is contaminated, it will contaminate you if it breaks your skin. The FDA recommends that you call your local health department to find out what the local guidelines are for safely disposing of contaminated sharps.
    • If you find a sharp, the best option is to call a professional cleaning company like Advanced Bio Treatment.
  • There is no body tissue present.
  • The blood has not dried or congealed, which requires special enzymes to remove.
  • The blood has not deeply soaked a carpet because the padding and subflooring underneath may need replacing. Also, you cannot disinfect a carpet with bleach.
  • The blood is not on a wood floor because it can seep through the cracks and require special cleaning tools.
  • The blood is only on a surface that you can disinfect with chlorine bleach.

What precautions should you take to protect yourself and others?

  • Wear gloves, a mask, long sleeves, pants, and goggles to protect your skin, eyes, nose, and mouth from contamination from blood spills and bodily fluids. Blood-borne pathogens enter the body easily through the mucous membranes on your face and through any open abrasions on your skin. One tiny drop of blood on a mucous membrane or open abrasion can infect you with a deadly disease.
  • Wear other clothing underneath the exposed clothing for further protection and also in case you must remove the outer clothing due to contamination.
  • Block the area so that no one can enter until you have completed the cleanup.
  • Sop up any blood spills with paper towels or other absorbent material.
  • Place the paper towels in a plastic garbage bag.
  • If you use sponges or mops that you don’t want to dispose of, disinfect them by allowing them to soak in a chlorine bleach solution of one part bleach to nine parts water. They should soak for at least 20 minutes.
  • After the blood is cleaned, disinfect every surface contaminated with blood by wiping the surface using paper towels and a bleach solution (one part bleach to nine parts water). Allow the bleach solution to remain on the surface for at least 20 minutes.
  • Place the paper towels in the plastic garbage bag.
  • Make sure that no blood is on your shoes or outer clothing before you move to an unaffected area. Otherwise, you risk cross-contamination of the other area. If any clothing is contaminated, remove it and place it in a plastic garbage bag. Wash contaminated clothing by itself in a bleach solution (one part bleach to nine parts water).
  • When you’re finished, dispose of the gloves by placing them in the garbage bag and sealing the bag.
  • WASH YOUR HANDS THOROUGHLY.

When in doubt, Advanced Bio Treatment suggests you take no chances with your health or the health of others. We are available around the clock every day of the year. Call us at 800-295-1684 for a free estimate and a quick response time.