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March 29, 2005
The abuse of methamphetamine has reached epidemic proportions in Tennessee. As a result, law enforcement agencies, across the state, have encountered approximately 4,800 Clandestine Methamphetamine Laboratories (CML) from 1998 to present. CMLs are encountered on various types of properties ranging from single-family homes, rental properties, hotel and motel rooms, recreational vehicles, to automobiles. As a consequence of this illegal drug-manufacturing process, CMLs leave behind potentially hazardous residual contamination that pose a threat to human health and render a property 'Unsafe for Human Use.' Residual contamination can be found adsorbed onto surfaces, and permeated into walls, carpets, drapes, bedding, furniture, appliances, clothing, toys, etc.

It is because numerous properties have been potentially rendered 'Unsafe for Human Use', and pursuant to TCA 68-212 Part 5, the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC) promulgated rules to determine when a property is 'Safe for Human Use' again. TDEC evaluated the risks posed by residual contamination and has developed reasonable, appropriate and protective (RAP) Cleanup Guidance to decontaminate properties affected by CMLs. TDEC's RAP Cleanup Guidance along with its Tiered Cleanup Responses are based on the premise that as more and more methamphetamine, precursors, or reagents are manufactured at a CML, the greater the potential is for more residual contamination to remain on the property that will need to be cleaned up.

The health hazards posed from exposure to residual contamination at CMLs include:

  • d-Methamphetamine - numerous neurological effects, stroke and cerebral vasculitis (infants at greatest risk)
  • Iodine - thyroid, pulmonary edema (2ppm IDLH)
  • Red Phosphorus - Eye, respiratory irritants/burns
  • Phosphine Gas - Respiratory Impairment, toxic
  • Acids - Eye, respiratory and dermal irritants/burns
  • Caustics - Eye, respiratory and dermal irritants/burns
  • Metals - Dermal burns, spontaneous fires
  • Solvents - carcinogens, liver / CNS effects, flammable
  • Sharps - Hepatitis, potential HIV infection