What you should know about Meth Labs in Maine

What you should know about meth production/use and property contamination in Maine

There are no standards in the State of Maine for Meth Lab Cleanup.  There are no State Disclosure Laws in place.  If buying a house or renting a property the property owner does not have to disclose if the property was used as a meth lab.  The only way to know is to test.  Local health districts have no legal mandate to address meth labs.

The mixing of the chemicals used in methamphetamine production produce toxic and potentially explosive fumes.

Breathing these fumes may cause irreparable harm to nasal passages, lungs, and the brain.

Lab cleanup is beyond the financial capabilities of Maine cities and towns. The average cost of cleanup is about $5,000 but may cost as much as $150,000.

Dumping of waste occurs wherever possible; contaminated garbage and toxic chemicals dumped indiscriminately can pollute water supplies, leach into the ground, etc.

Clandestine labs have many known & unknown liquids/substances in marked & unmarked containers deemed hazardous waste.

Six pounds of toxic waste are produced for each pound of methamphetamine manufactured in clandestine labs.

The dwellings where a meth lab has been operating becomes contaminated and poses health risks to future inhabitants because the ceilings, floors, carpets, walls, drapes, furnishings, are all contaminated by the toxic fumes and residue from the dangerous chemicals.

According to the Meth Task Force website, Many of the contaminants present during the meth cooking process can be harmful if humans or pets are exposed to them. Meth labs can cause health problems including respiratory illness, skin and eye irritation, headaches, burns, nausea and dizziness. Short-term exposures to high concentrations of some of these chemicals are common to first responders, such as fire departments or law enforcement officers first entering a lab.

The safest way to clean up a former meth lab is to hire environmental companies trained in hazardous substance removal and cleanup. Owners that clean their own properties should be aware that household building materials and furniture can absorb contaminants and give off fumes. Use caution and wear clothing to protect your skin, such as gloves, long sleeves, and eye protection during cleaning. Smoking should not be permitted during the cleanup process.


What is the Current Status of Methamphetamine in Maine?

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says meth is becoming a matter of concern in Maine. Abuse and availabilities have increased in far-north Aroostook County, as evidenced by reports of “Yaba” and “Enhanced Ecstasy” seizures at the northernmost border points. In 2005, Maine became one of the first states in the country to restrict the sale of pseudoephedrine which is an ingredient used to manufacture meth. Maine’s border with Canada, however, encourages smuggling and its rural makeup allows cooks to ply their trade in secret.

— Clandestine meth lab busts in Maine since 2005
Year                 2005     2006     2007     2008     2009    2010
Lab busts           4           6          5           1          1         5
Source: El Paso Intelligence Center
  • Lab Seizures: In 2005 and 2006, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency made 9 methamphetamine lab seizures in the following counties: 3 in Aroostook, 3 in Androscoggin, 1 in Cumberland and 2 in Penobscot (total of 5 labs in 2005 and 4 labs in 2006).
  • 2008 – 4 labs (Bangor, Veazie, Milford and Bath)
  • 2009 – 1 lab (New Vinyard)
  • 2010 – 6 labs (Veazie, Auburn, Lewiston, and three in Houlton)
— High schools students who say they have used methamphetamine at least once. The U.S. average for all students in 2007 was 4.4%. Maine was not part of the 2009 survey.
(Source: Centers for Disease Control):
Year                               2005      2007        U.S. 2007
Total                              5.2%     5.0%         4.4%
9th grade                        4.3%     4.2%         3.6%
10th grade                      2.0%     3.0%          4.1%
11th grade                      4.7%     6.1%          5.4%
12th grade                      8.3%     6.6%          4.5%
— Number of people admitted to drug treatment for amphetamine-related addictions and the percentage of all admissions that were related to amphetamines (mostly meth).
Year                 2005     2006     2007     2008     2009    2010
Number            79        104       80         72         70        72
Percentage      0.5%     0.7%   0.5%      0.5%     0.5%    0.7%
(Note: the national average percentage of meth admissions is 6.3%)
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
— Seizures of methamphetamine by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Seizure amounts are in kilograms (note: 1 kg. = 2.2 lbs.):
Year                 2005     2006     2007     2008     2009    2010
Seizures            0          0          0          0          1.2       0
Source: Drug Enforcement Administration

FMI – contact Maine MethWatch Coordinator Malory Shaughnessy at 207.621.8118 or mshaughnessy@masap.org

TP Environmental identifies and develops protocol for meth lab cleanup.  10 years experience working in Oregon and Washington as a certified methamphetamine hygienist.  www.gotbadair.com