Providing Perth with Meth Lab Testing and Cleaning

 

Savana Environmental Australia Pty Ltd (Savana) are based in Perth, Western Australia, and are a fully trained and certified provider of state-wide, initial testing, decontamination and remediation of Methamphetamine (Meth) Contaminated properties.

We provide Perth with meth lab cleaning and testing services, ensuring that the property is once again ready to be inhabited.

In the unfortunate event that you are in the position, either as a landlord, co-tenant or contractor to require the assessment of a site or remediation (commercial, domestic or other), Savana Environmental Australia Pty Ltd is able to provide a service to the highest quality

  • Industry Expertise:  Savana have obtained recognised industry qualifications and training.  Savana technicians complete all aspects of a methamphetamine (clandestine) lab clean up and remediation services and will ensure this is done with the highest possible level of technical expertise and discretion.  We are able to provide a comprehensive testing, reporting and documentary record of the entire process.  This can be of the utmost importance – particularly in ensuring requirements of governing bodies and insurance companies involved in the process are met.
  • Quick Response:  The very nature of this kind of service, particularly from a health and safety perspective, is imperative.  Savana is based in the Perth and is available to provide our range of services both within the Perth metropolitan area and regional locations State wide.  Our testing facilities and trained technicians are available at short notice to complete works both during and outside of normal business hours (after hours and weekends) as required.
  • Expertise and Experience:  Savana personnel have gained, through industry experience and accredited training, the diverse range skills required to deal with the many hazardous compounds and residue that may be present at contaminated locations. Our first priority is to assess, document and communicate our recommended process to render affected premises safe for re-use.

Savana’s main goal is to provide cleaners for clandestine labs in Perth and to ensure clients receive impeccable, individualised project services that will allows re-use of site premises in a timely and cost effective manner. 

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WHAT IS METHAMPETAMINE?

Methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Commonly referred to by street names such as meth, chalk, ice, and crystal (among many other terms), “Meth” takes the form of a white, odourless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that dissolves easily in water or alcohol.

Methamphetamine was first developed from its parent drug, amphetamine, and was originally used in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers. Like amphetamine, methamphetamine causes increased activity and talkativeness, decreased appetite, and a pleasurable sense of well-being or euphoria. Methamphetamine, however, differs from amphetamine in that, at comparable doses, much greater amounts of the drug get into the brain, making it a more potent stimulant. It also has longer-lasting and more harmful effects on the central nervous system. These characteristics make it a drug with high potential for widespread abuse.

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METHAMPHETAMINE CONTAMINANTS – HAZARDS AND HEALTH RISKS

There are a wide range of chemicals used to produce methamphetamine that are extremely hazardous in nature. Some are highly volatile and may ignite or explode if handled, mixed or stored improperly. Fire and explosion pose risks not only to the individuals producing the drug but also to anyone in the surrounding area, including children, neighbours, and passers-by.

Methamphetamine production is extremely dangerous – even when fire or explosion does not occur. Simply being exposed to the toxic chemicals used to produce the drug poses a variety of health risks, including, nausea, dizziness, disorientation, lack of coordination, intoxication, pulmonary oedema, serious respiratory problems, severe chemical burns, and damage to internal organs.

It is important to understand that the health effects are not just there during the cooking process but a former meth lab property can also become contaminated through residues left behind, not only though cooking but also through the smoking of methamphetamine.

Inhalation. Inhaling chemical vapours and gases resulting from methamphetamine production causes shortness of breath, cough, and chest pain. Exposure to these vapours and gases may also cause intoxication, dizziness, nausea, disorientation, lack of coordination, pulmonary oedema, chemical pneumonitis, and other serious respiratory problems when absorbed into the body through the lungs.

Skin Contact. Serious burns can be caused if the chemicals used to produce methamphetamine come into contact with the skin. The residues left behind in a Meth contaminated property can also be absorbed into the skin, causing nausea, headaches, sickness or long term exposure can cause organ failure.

Ingestion. Ingesting toxic chemicals–or methamphetamine itself–may result in potentially fatal poisoning, internal chemical burns, damage to organ function, and harm to neurological and immunologic functioning. Young children present in Meth contaminated sites are at particular risk of ingesting chemical residues left behind.  Toxic chemicals can be ingested either by consuming contaminated food or beverages or by inadvertently consuming the chemicals directly.

Environmental. Methamphetamine production threatens the environment. The average methamphetamine laboratory produces 5 to 7 pounds of toxic waste for every pound of methamphetamine produced. Operators often dispose of this waste improperly, simply by dumping it near the laboratory in back gardens or drains. This can cause contamination of the soil and nearby water supplies.

If you believe you may have purchased a former meth lab in Perth, it is important to contact accredited meth lab cleaners in order to have the property remediated.

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HAZARDOUS CHEMICAL COMPOUNDS COMMONLY FOUND PRESENT AT CLANDESTINE METH LABORATORIES

Chemicals commonly used in the production of Methamphetamine and their known associated hazards include:

Pseudoephedrine:  Ingestion causes arrhythmia, dizziness, hypertension and vomiting. Higher levels of ingestion (greater than 600mg) can lead to renal failure and seizures.

Freon: Inhalation can cause severe lung damage and sudden cardiac arrest.  Freon is corrosive if ingested.

Anhydrous ammonia: This is a pungent, colourless gas with suffocating odour. Inhalation causes oedema of the respiratory tract and asphyxia. Contact with vapours causes severe eye and mucous membrane damage.

Lithium metal: Extremely caustic to all body tissues. Reacts violently with water and poses both fire and explosion hazards.

Red phosphorous: May explode as a result of contact or friction. Ignites if heated above 260° C. Vapour from ignited phosphorus severely irritates the nose, throat, lungs, and eyes.

Acetone/Ethyl Alcohol: Extremely flammable, posing a fire risk in and around the laboratory. Inhalation or ingestion of these solvents causes severe gastric irritation, narcosis, or coma.

Hypo phosphorous acid: Extremely caustic to all body tissues. Reacts violently with water and poses a fire or explosion hazard.

Phenylpropanolamine: Ingestion of doses greater than 75 mg causes hypertension, arrhythmia, anxiety, and dizziness. Quantities greater than 300 mg can lead to renal failure, seizures, stroke, and death.

Iodine crystals: Give off vapour that is irritating to respiratory system and eyes. Solid form irritates the eyes and may burn skin. If ingested, cause severe internal damage.

Hydriodic Acid A corrosive acid with vapours that are irritating to the respiratory system, eyes, and skin. If ingested, causes severe internal irritation and damage that may cause death.

 

HEALTH RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH METHAMPHETAMINE CONTAMINATED SITES AND PREMISES

Methamphetamine laboratories can be found in a wide range of locations. Clandestine labs have been found in secluded rural areas as well as in residential, commercial, and industrial districts. Law enforcement officers have seized laboratories at private residences, commercial properties, hotels and motels, and outdoor locations. Mobile laboratories have been known to be discovered in motor vehicles and boats.

If a Meth lab is located, the bulk of drug related equipment and chemicals will be removed by the WA Police and their specialised, qualified chemical experts.  Clandestine Meth labs pose the highest risk to the operators and occupants of the building both during the cooking stages and through residues remaining in the building fabric

Remaining contaminated waste materials or residue may, however, post health risks to occupants and/or nearby residents and must therefore be decontaminated properly after its discovery so as to eliminate risks to subsequent occupants.

Signs indicating that a methamphetamine laboratory may be present?   

Often in combination, the following may indicate the presence of a clandestine methamphetamine laboratory:

  • Unusual odours (ether, ammonia, acetone, or other chemicals)
  • Excessive amounts of waste rubbish material, particularly chemical containers, coffee filters or clothes that are often stained red, and duct tape rolls
  • Observation of property/location (residences, shed, garages sheds or other structures) where curtains are predominantly drawn or windows are covered with aluminium foil or blackened
  • Evidence of chemical waste or dumping such as staining and burn marks to grass areas
  • Frequent visitors, particularly at unusual times
  • Extensive security measures or attempts to ensure privacy (no trespassing or beware of dog signs, fences, large trees or shrubs)
  • Secretive or unfriendly occupants

The level at which methamphetamine contamination will produce health consequences is not known but the higher the level of exposure, the greater the likelihood and potential severity of detrimental health effects, the current guidelines state that concentrations greater that 0.5µm should be remediated through cleaning with specialised cleaning products and equipment and levels greater than 2.0µm should be remediated through the disposal or all porous building products such as carpets, curtains, timber and plasterboard

SHORT TERM HEALTH RISKS

Initial Exposure Risks/Symptoms:

  • Burning feeling in lungs and/or throat
  • Nausea
  • Coughing or choking
  • Headaches
  • Elevated heart rate, feelings of high adrenaline or euphoria
  • Burning skin
  • Decrease in cognitive function, vertigo and convulsions
  • Dizziness/shortness of breath
  • Pain in chest/diaphragm
  • Feeling of coldness or weakness
  • Burning or watery eyes

People moving into a dwelling after a clan lab has ceased operating may be unaware of these previous illicit operations. These individuals may have family members who are pregnant, elderly, frail or have compromised health, placing them at increased risk through exposure to remnant contamination.

LONG TERM HEALTH RISKS

Residual solids and liquids in the form of surface residues, spills, etc. will remain in place unless physically removed. Until completely and thoroughly removed, there is a possibility of being exposed to these residuals risking injury.

Chronic health effects from residual contaminants present at methamphetamine labs is not yet scientifically proven.  There is scientific evidence, however, that shows the chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine can cause a variety of health effects including cancer, brain/nervous system injury, injury to the liver and kidneys, birth defects, and reproductive disorders.

Chemically induced cancers and permanent injury to organ systems are generally associated with continuous or habitual exposure to harmful chemicals over extended periods.

If appropriate decontamination procedures are followed, former lab buildings can be re-occupied. Based on the known physical properties of the chemicals associated with methamphetamine production, there is no current scientific evidence to suggest a continuing human health risk after a thorough decontamination.

 

TESTING PROCESS FOR METHAMPHETAMINE CONTAMINATED SITES AND PREMISES

Guidelines issued by the Health Department of WA list the following points as very important when determining the nature of methamphetamine contamination at a clandestine laboratory site and list the following:

  • Contamination usually results from overheating chemical reactions, poorly managed extractions, and spills or dumping of chemicals and long term use of Meth in a property
  • The level of contamination depends on the processes and methods involved, scale and operational status of the lab, and duration and frequency of use in a property
  • For a given amount of drug produced there may be three to thirty times that quantity of chemical waste generated which are normally unsafely dumped on grass in drains or in insufficient containers
  • Contamination can be transient or residual. Gases such as ammonia and phosphine are transient and only likely to be present in the air during or shortly after active drug production (Ministry of Health, 2010). Vapours from liquids can be retained in and be re-released to air from soft furnishings or surfaces for some time after clan lab operations cease (Australian Government, 2011)
  • Residues are more persistent and are usually in the form of surface deposits (salts), or liquids (methamphetamine base oil or reagent chemicals) that have absorbed into porous surfaces or materials such as plaster board
  • Methamphetamine (including its salt) is usually the main contaminant after its production has ceased and can persist as a surface residue for months or even years.
  • Present gases or aerosols released are often likely to be initially contained in buildings at high levels. This usually occurs because operators may have disabled ventilation systems to avoid detection by escaped fugitive odours.
  • Methamphetamine is likely to contaminate any person in its vicinity. Even after a single small cook or minor usage, surfaces will be contaminated in both nearby and more distant areas, depending on the production method and duration of use Contamination of adjacent ventilation systems as well as  plumbing systems may also occur
  • Methamphetamine contamination can also occur due to smoking ice, the crystal form of the drug. Although this is not as “dirty” as production-related contamination, it can add to the contaminant loading, especially over time, and affect other areas in the building
  •  Environmental contamination of water and soil can occur from the dumping/burial of waste or through use of outdoor areas for production.
  • Sodium hydroxide waste is one such hazard and since it is usually present as a solid it will tend to remain on the soil surface, though possibly infiltrating with rain water into soil over time.
  • Fires and explosions within clan labs can result in dwelling and environmental contamination.  Consequently, there will always be some contamination associated with a clan lab operation and in most cases it will persist in buildings as methamphetamine residue.

 

CLANDESTINE METHAMPHETAMINE LABORATORY SITE REMEDIATION

Four Phases of Site Remediation

The four phases of clandestine laboratory site remediation are:

  1. Trigger for assessment;
  2. Preliminary assessment;
  3. Remediation
  4. Validation.

Phase 1 – Trigger for Assessment

Law enforcement agencies from all Australian jurisdictions which encounter clandestine laboratories. These may be operating at the time of police involvement or have been previously operated in such location. All state and territory police services maintain specialist units, trained specifically to operate in the hazardous environment created by clandestine methamphetamine operations.

Once the laboratory site has been rendered safe and processed for evidentiary purposes, police will usually notify the appropriate authority within that jurisdiction of the existence of the site.

At this time, information should be provided outlining the nature of the suspected illicit manufacturing activity and the identity of chemicals detected on the site.

Regular initial testing and screening is also recommended in properties to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing or building occupants, future occupants, visitors and trades.

Phase 2 – Preliminary Assessment and Action

Once notification of the presence of a meth contaminated property has been established, the responsible consultant should conduct a preliminary assessment to determine whether further action is required, by ascertaining the level of contamination and level of remediation, if any, required. For example,.

  • Declaring a dwelling or property ‘potentially contaminated’ or unfit for habitation or
  • Notification be made to property owner that they must provide sufficient evidence that the site does not pose a risk to human or environmental health, based on the requirements of the Australian Guidelines.

Phase 3 – Remediation

If Phase 2 determines that risk to health exists, the appropriate authority should, following imposing of pollution control measures, clean-up notices or positive assessments, determine who is responsible for remediation, and engage the services of suitably qualified professionals to rededicate to the site in accordance with Australian Government Guidelines and the Remediation Action Plan

These investigations will be carried out to determine if the dwelling/ structure and/or property pose a risk to human or environmental health.

Following engagement by a property owner, authorised representative, mortgagee or other party having legal claim or authority over a property or dwelling, a consultant should review available site documentation in accordance with Australian Government Guidelines.

Phase 4 – Validation

Following site assessment and remediation, a site validation report is prepared. The appropriate authority may audit the report before acceptance. Once accepted the property is then fit for human occupation