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Methamphetamine Laboratory Identification and Hazards Fast Facts

NCJ Number
Date Published
2 pages
This brief question and answer fact sheet provides information on the identification of methamphetamine laboratories and hazards associated with these laboratories.
A methamphetamine laboratory is an illicit operation that produces the powerful stimulant methamphetamine. Methamphetamine laboratories are increasingly prevalent throughout the United States with more than 7,500 laboratories in 44 States seized in 2002. Laboratories have been found in secluded rural areas, as well as residential, commercial, and industrial areas. There are several signs, which in combination, may indicate the presence of a laboratory: unusual odors, excessive amounts of trash, particularly chemical containers, curtains drawn or windows covered, evidence of chemical waste dumping, frequent visitors at unusual times, extensive security measures or attempts to ensure privacy, and secretive or unfriendly occupants. The production of methamphetamine threatens the environment with the average methamphetamine laboratory producing 5 to 7 pounds of toxic waste for every pound of methamphetamine produced. Improper waste disposal can cause contamination of the soil, as well as nearby water supplies. The chemicals used to produce methamphetamine are extremely hazardous with some being highly volatile. Inhaling chemical vapors and gases from the production of methamphetamine has serious health risks. In addition, if the chemicals come in contact with the skin, it can cause serious burns. Suspected methamphetamine laboratories should be reported to the local police department or sheriff’s office.