Cleanup and Inspection of Illegal Drug Labs
Last updated on July 17, 2017
Health and Hazards
Health effects caused by exposure to illegal drug lab chemicals depend upon three (3) factors: the lab process and the chemicals used to manufacture, the amount of chemicals used and length of exposure, and the age and health of the person exposed. There are at least four (4) ways to be exposed to illegal drug lab residue: unintended injection, inhalation, ingestion or absorption through the skin. Possible chronic health effects from exposure to illegal drug lab residue include disorientation, respiratory irritability, behavioral changes, neurological, kidney and liver damage, burns to the skin, eyes and mouth and, in severe exposure, death.
Even after removal of the illicit laboratory equipment and chemicals, residual amounts of chemicals and byproducts may persist on interior surfaces and personal property. Do not enter the property until the local health department [PDF] and qualified inspector has determined it is safe to re-enter.
Failure to clean an illegal drug related property may leave the property owner open to liability for injury to others from exposure to dangerous chemicals.
How Indiana Responds to Illegal Drug Labs
- When an illegal drug lab is discovered, it is reported to a certified local law enforcement agency or the Indiana State Police Methamphetamine Suppression Section who are trained and equipped to safely enter and dismantle the lab.
- The law enforcement agency terminates, dismantles, removes and properly disposes of the lab contents. They do not remove residual contamination from or decontaminate the property in which the lab was located.
- The Methamphetamine Suppression Section, or other law enforcement agency that terminates the drug lab, sends a written report, called an Occurrence Report, to the Drug Enforcement Section of the Indiana State Police, the local health department, the city, township, or county fire department, and, if children were present, the Department of Child Services.
- The Department of Child Services ensures that any children involved receive proper care under the Indiana Drug Endangered Children Response Protocol [PDF].
- The local health department issues an abatement order that prohibits occupancy of the property until it has been properly decontaminated and is no longer hazardous to occupy.
Responsibility of Property Owner
- The property owner must then hire a qualified inspector to test and decontaminate the property and certify that it has been decontaminated to the final level of < 0.5 µg/100 cm2 before continuing to occupy or use the property or transferring any interest in the property to another person.
- In lieu of testing and decontamination, contaminated property may be demolished and/or disposed of in a licensed landfill. A person who acts as a demolition contractor shall use the Notification of Demolition form (State Form 55660, available on the IDEM Forms page) to notify the local health department that demolition will be conducted at a specific location.
- The property owner’s responsibility applies to vehicles, watercraft, outbuildings, other contaminated structures and soil.
- Drug Lab Hazards Frequently Asked Questions [PDF]
- Methamphetamine Labs Frequently Asked Questions for Property Owners [PDF]
- Cleared Properties as of June 2017 [PDF]
Rules for Inspection and Cleanup of Property
- Apply to multiple types of drug labs including methamphetamine, amphetamine, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, methcathenon, LSD, MDMA, PCP and GHB.
- Require owners of contaminated property that was used for illegal drug manufacture to clean up the property before continuing to occupy, use, reoccupy, or sell the property.
- Offer decontamination of the property or removal of all potentially contaminated material, demolition of a structure, disposal of a vehicle, and destruction and disposal of a watercraft as options to clean up contaminated property.
- Set criteria for persons to become listed on the qualified inspector list.
- Set standards for inspection, decontamination, and/or removal of contaminated property.
- Prescribe methods for sampling and testing the contaminated property.
- Require the qualified inspector to provide a certificate that shows the property has been properly decontaminated.
- Establish the duties of a demolition contractor in the event the contaminated property has to be demolished.
Duties of a Qualified Inspector
- Review the Indiana State Police (ISP) Lab Occurrence Report.
- If no ISP Report exists, consult with the law enforcement agency that terminated the lab and local health department to determine the types of chemicals used.
- Conduct initial assessment, using U.S. EPA Method 8270C or equivalent method or practice to determine the types and levels of chemicals used and the scope and extent of contamination for the entire structure, HVAC within the structure, areas outside the structure, and the sewage disposal system.
- Notify, in writing, the local health department, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), and the Drug Lab Cleanup Program Director, the date decontamination will be conducted.
- Supervise decontamination, including septic system and or sewage disposal system.
- Notify person who pumps septic system of possible hazards.
- Inspect the property when decontamination is complete or if the initial assessment indicates decontamination is not required.
- Complete the Certificate of Illegal Drug Lab Cleanup (available on the IDEM Forms page) and send it to the local health department, the State Department of Health, the IDEM, and the owner.
- Dispose or arrange for disposal of wastes in accordance with 329 IAC 3.1 [PDF] (hazardous wastes), 327 IAC 7.1 [PDF] (septic system wastewater), and 329 IAC 10 [PDF] (all other wastes).
Note: Should you conduct a demolition or supervise a demolition, the Notification of Demolition for Drug Lab Cleanup (available on the IDEM Forms page) should be used to document the demolition and then emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The List of Qualified Inspectors:
Each individual who has met all of the requirements to become a qualified inspector is listed in Qualified Inspectors for Illegal Drug Lab Cleanups [PDF].
IDEM does not:
- Endorse any specific company or inspector.
- Regulate or control fees for testing, cleanup or inspection services.
Reporting Issues with Qualified Inspectors
If you experience issues with a qualified inspector, such a failure to perform duties required by the rule, contact the Drug Lab Cleanup Program Director.
How to Become a Qualified Inspector
Each qualified inspector must complete and provide documentation of all of the following:
- At least forty (40) hours of experience cleaning illegal drug labs, or similar work, such as emergency response operations, cleanup or remediation operations, corrective actions, or operations involving hazardous wastes that are regulated under the regulations of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at 29 CFR 1910.120. Documentation may include timesheets, reports, letters from employers, or notarized affidavits 40 hours of experience.
- Training for supervisors required by 29 CFR 1910.120(e) (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response). This training must include 40 hours of training for general site workers and an additional 8 hours of specialized supervisor training. Documentation must include Training certificates signed by the instructor showing completion of the required OSHA training.
- Training on cleanup of contaminated property provided by IDEM and passing an examination on illegal drug lab cleanup with a score of at least eighty percent (80%).
- A Certificate of Liability Insurance that reflects the required insurance coverage:
- Professional liability insurance in the amount of at least one million dollars ($1,000,000).
- Errors and omissions insurance in the amount of at least one million dollars ($1,000,000) per occurrence.
- Pollution prevention insurance in the amount of at least three million dollars ($3,000,000).
A person who meets the foregoing criteria and wants to be placed on the qualified inspector list may apply for listing by completing the Application for Listing as a Qualified Inspector for Drug Lab Cleanup (available on the IDEM Forms page).
Mail, deliver, fax, or email the application, along with all supporting documentation to the Drug Lab Cleanup Program Director.
Training for Qualified Inspectors
Training for potential qualified inspectors occurs twice each year. There is no cost for this training which includes:
- Indiana State Police Meth Suppression Section’s perspective on meth labs in Indiana.
- Requirements of Indiana's illegal drug lab cleanup rule.
- Health and safety issues.
- Sampling and lab analysis procedures.
- Sampling methods.
- Local Health Department interaction.
- Insurance issues for Qualified Inspectors.
The next qualified inspector trainings will be held:
- July 27, 2017 - the class has reached its limit
- January 26, 2018
Training is held at a location within the Indiana Government Center complex starting at 8:00 AM. Following the sessions, there is an opportunity to take the examination for those seeking to become qualified. Those wanting to take the examination should be thoroughly familiar with 318 IAC 1 prior to attending the training. Participants will be tested over health and safety issues as well as sampling and lab analysis procedures taught during the class.
To register for the training, complete the online Student Registration for Illegal Drug Lab Cleanup Training (Closed). Registrations not completed 10 business days in advance of a training date will not be accepted. The size of the classes are limited due to occupancy limits; therefore, it is suggested that you register as early as possible. Due to the high demand for the class, it is appreciated that you notify the the Drug Lab Cleanup Program Director if you are unable to attend the class for which you registered.
Links to external resources are provided as a public service and do not imply endorsement.