There has been a lot of media focus on the deadly heroin epidemic this country is facing. And rightly so. However, all that attention has overshadowed another deadly drug: methamphetamine.
Not only is methamphetamine dangerous to the people who use it, it can also be dangerous – even fatal – to innocent people who have no idea they are being exposed to the drug's deadly ingredients, and law enforcement across the country are issuing warnings for people to be aware.
Meth cookers produce an abnormally large amount of waste in their efforts to produce the drug. This trash often contains chemicals that are toxic. The chemicals are acidic, corrosive, and flammable and direct contact with skin can cause serious burns. The combination of these chemicals can often lead to fires or explosions.
This trash is often just thrown anywhere – in the woods, side of roads or streets and highways. Especially at risk are people who spend a lot of time in the woods, such as hikers and hunters, or those who participate in Adopt-a-Highway programs and go around cleaning up trash that people discard – they may be handling meth trash and have no idea the danger it poses.
Some of the most popular containers used by meth cookers include gas cans and plastic soda bottles. Batteries which have been torn apart, coffee filters with colored stains on them, empty blister packs, rubber or plastic hoses, and Ziploc bags are all items that are used to produce the drug and may have hazardous chemical residue left on them.
It is also common behavior for meth producers to either hide or discard backpacks or bags in odd locations. The toxic chemicals are often stored in these bags. Even just sniffing what is inside these bags can cause severe injuries.
Emergency response to any location where there could be dangerous chemicals puts all emergency personnel at risk. Emergency Film Group offers many programs which can assist in that training, including Response to Illicit Drug Labs, Hazmat/WMD Awareness, and the Hazardous Materials: Managing the Incident Series.