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Illegal drug labs have become a growing problem in Indiana. In 1999, Indiana law enforcement agencies investigated 177 illegal drug labs. By 2013, that number rose to 1,808. Clandestine drug labs are found in homes, apartments, hotel and motel rooms, mobile homes, outbuildings, storage facilities, vehicles and watercraft. Property is contaminated if it has been used for the illegal manufacturing of a controlled substance such as amphetamine, methcathenone, LSD, ecstasy, PCP, GHB and the most commonly manufactured drug, methamphetamine. If you suspect the presence of an illegal drug lab, contact the Indiana State Police or complete the fillable form as part of the Indiana Methamphetamine Investigation System.
Health effects caused by exposure to illegal drug lab chemicals depend on three (3) things. Those are the lab process and the chemicals used, the amount of chemical and length of exposure, and the age and health of the person exposed. Chemicals may enter the body by being breathed, eaten, or absorbed through the skin. Exposure to high levels of contaminants found in illegal drug labs can cause shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, dizziness, lack of coordination, chemical irritation, and burns to the skin, eyes, mouth and nose, and in severe cases, death.
Cases have been reported where children living in a house or other structure, which formerly contained an illegal drug lab, encountered lingering health problems. The Indiana Department of Child Services and other Indiana agencies have developed procedures [PDF] to deal with children who are affected by an illegal drug lab. If children have been affected by an illegal drug lab, contact the Department of Child Services office in your county or city.
After removal of the illicit laboratory equipment and chemicals, residual amounts of chemicals and byproducts may persist on interior surfaces and furnishings prior to cleanup. If you own, or represent the owner, of property that has been used as an illegal drug lab, do not enter the property until the local health department or a qualified inspector has determined it is safe to re-enter.
Failure to clean your property may leave you open to liability for injury to others from exposure to dangerous chemicals.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) maintains the National Clandestine Laboratory Register as a public service. The Register contains addresses of locations where local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies reported they found chemicals used in clandestine drug labs or dumpsites. Since the Department is dependent upon law enforcement agencies to provide the information and does not independently verify that information, the Department does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the Register’s contents.
After a law enforcement agency seizes a drug lab, it removes the bulk chemicals and drug making equipment from the site, residual contamination often remains because the hazardous chemicals that are used when manufacturing these drugs can contaminate the property. Property owners may choose to decontaminate, remove all potentially contaminated material, or demolish the contaminated property. Owners are responsible for all decontamination, cleanup, or demolition costs. Owners may wish to check with their insurance carrier to see if it will cover some or all of the costs. Owners may either decontaminate the property under the supervision of a qualified inspector or use a qualified inspector who will:
Note: Qualified inspectors will not certify work they did not do themselves or have agreed for the property owner to do under their supervision. Only a person listed on IDEM’s Qualified Inspector List can issue a Certificate of Decontamination under 318 IAC 1-5-9.
IDEM maintains a list of each individual who has met all requirements to become a qualified inspector. I318 IAC 1-4-2 sets forth the criteria to be listed as a qualified inspector. Both the List and information on how to become a listed qualified inspector can be found on the Qualified Inspector List.
In most cases, wastes from illegal drug labs can be disposed of in a permitted municipal solid waste landfill [PDF]. Contact IDEM by phone at (800) 451-6027 or via email at "DrugLabCleanup at idem.in.gov" with questions about disposing of wastes from illegal drug labs.
Links to external resources are provided as a public service and do not imply endorsement by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
Contact IDEM for more information about this section by phone at (800) 451-6027, or by email at "info at idem.IN.gov".