Meth Labs In Ohio | Prevalence, Discoveries, & Cleanup
Methamphetamine is a severe and deadly issue in Ohio. However, meth labs have become much less common (but no less dangerous) in recent years due to a variety of changes in public policies, drug production, and trafficking patterns.
Meth labs were once frighteningly common in Ohio but have since become less prevalent due to reduced availability of precursor chemicals, changes in production methods, pressure from drug task forces, and a surge in cheap mass-produced methamphetamine trafficked into the United States illegally by Mexican cartels.
Nevertheless, clandestine drug labs of various sizes are still discovered in Ohio and can pose a severe risk to the health and safety of those in proximity to them.
Prevalence Of Meth Labs In Ohio
While precise data is unavailable, the current prevalence of meth labs in Ohio is quite low, especially in comparison to years prior when the meth-lab epidemic was at its height.
For instance, in 2016, the total number of methamphetamine lab busts in Ohio was 563. A year later there were only 245 recorded busts, a drastic downward trend that is believed to have continued.
Experts believe that this change was driven by a variety of factors:
- policy changes limiting pseudoephedrine purchases and adding ID and recording requirements
- a rise in smaller scale “one-pot” or shake-and-bake meth production techniques, contrasting the large-scale meth lab setups more common in the 2000s
- ongoing crackdowns by law enforcement agencies, backed up by strict legal penalties for those involved in meth production
- a surge in cheap, pure, professionally-made methamphetamine originating from Mexico and trafficked into Ohio and elsewhere across the United States
Around 1,300 total meth labs were discovered in Ohio as of 2019. And a small number of meth labs are still uncovered each year.
While these labs are most common in rural Ohio, they are also sometimes discovered in surprising locations all around major urban centers like Cleveland, Akron, Columbus, and others.
Discovering Meth Labs
There have been many cases in which covert drug labs have been very well-hidden. However, there are usually telltale signs and signals that can reveal when house or other location is being used for illicit drug production:
- frequent and strange activity at odd hours of the day and night
- strong chemical odors (urine, ammonia, acetone, and other chemicals)
- large volumes of trash and other clutter often stored out of doors, likely including glass or plastic bottles, frying pans, rubber tubing, red-stained cloth or coffee filters, and duct tape
- packages or bottles from pseudoephedrine or ephedrine medications
- propane tanks with fittings that have turned blue
- containers for chemicals like freon, acetone, anhydrous ammonia, red phosphorous, lithium metal, and more
- dead plants, odd stains, and other signs of chemical waste or dumping
- secretive and unfriendly behavior by occupants, often including keeping outside dogs, blocking windows, and posting no-trespassing sign
Dangers Of Meth Labs
The risks posed by meth labs to those within the structure, as well as those in the surrounding area, are many, varied, and severe, including:
- a high risk for explosions or fires due to the chemicals and production methods used
- exposure to highly toxic vapors and byproducts that may cause dizziness, nausea, disorientation, pulmonary edema, respiratory damage, chemical burns, and organ damage
- environmental damage, as methamphetamine laboratories are estimated to produce and discard 5-7 pounds of toxic chemical waste for each pound of methamphetamine produced, often contaminating local soil, streams, lakes, or groundwater
- an increased risk of violent injury or death, as the production, distribution, and use of methamphetamine is closely related not only to criminal activity (organized or otherwise) but also to acts stemming from methamphetamine-induced paranoid psychosis
If you suspect that a covert drug lab is operating near you do not investigate or confront the location’s occupants on your own. Contact your police or sheriff’s office and wait for the authorities to investigate with a valid search warrant.
Meth Lab Cleanup
Properly cleaning up after a meth lab bust is not an easy or quick process, no matter the size and scope of the site’s prior activity.
Due to the lingering risks associated with meth production, professional cleanup and remediation is the only safe solution that can restore a site to habitable condition.
Voluntary guidelines for methamphetamine lab cleanup are outlined in Methamphetamine Remediation Research Act (Public Law 110- 143), including:
- bulk removal of hazardous materials by local law enforcement
- continuous ventilation
- personal protective gear
- proper disposal of all furniture, mattresses, carpet, and other non-machine washable soft materials
- disposal or proper cleaning of clothing and personal items
- careful inspection of appliances, plumbing, and other home materials, and replacement or cleaning as needed
- HEPA filter vacuuming of hard surfaces
- seal and clean the HVAC system and replace all filters
- 3x wash and rinse all ceilings, walls, floors, furniture and other household items
- prime and repaint surfaces
- finally, ventilate the building for 3-5 days
For information on how we treat meth addiction in Ohio, please contact us today.
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/documents/meth_lab_guidelines.pdf
- Illinois Department Of Health https://dph.illinois.gov/content/dam/soi/en/web/idph/files/publications/residential-meth-lab-cleanup-checklist-050416.pdf
- Marietta Times https://www.mariettatimes.com/news/local-news/2019/01/meth-use-up-meth-labs-down/
- National Drug Intelligence Center https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs7/7341/index.htm
- Ohio Department Of Health https://odh.ohio.gov/wps/wcm/connect/gov/b5bc46c7-2138-4115-9e46-426690c1bbe6/methlabcleanup.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CONVERT_TO=url&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_M1HGGIK0N0JO00QO9DDDDM3000-b5bc46c7-2138-4115-9e46-426690c1bbe6-mjNgGNd
- Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring Network (OSAM) https://mha.ohio.gov/static/ResearchandData/DataandReports/OSAM/OSAM-Drug-Trend-Report-January-2023.pdf