TRENT HILLS & DISTRICT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Proud Supporter of the Canadian Forces Community
Realtors, appraisers, inspectors
dangers of meth labs
an epidemic sweeping Ontario
which represents health, safety and liability risks to Realtors, appraisers and
anyone else entering homes contaminated with chemicals used to grow or
manufacture illegal drugs.
and fertilizers notwithstanding, some of the primary risks
associated with marijuana “grow houses” have been mould and wood-destroying
organisms resulting from the greenhouse conditions existing in these homes. The
grow house has been viewed primarily as a business or legal risk for the real
However, as the illegal
production of crystal methamphetamine (meth) grows in
Ontario, more of the real estate community could be placing their lives at risk
trying to assess or inspect homes containing potentially explosive drug labs.
According to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) even the leftovers of a
household “meth lab” may represent a huge danger, given the variety of chemicals
which could explode at any moment.
with a crystal meth lab could be putting
their life at risk if they don't know what they're walking into.
Methamphetamine is made mostly from common household ingredients. When these
ingredients are mixed and cooked together, they make a
dangerous drug and potentially harmful chemical residues can remain on household
surfaces for months or years after cooking has been completed. There may be
serious health effects associated with these chemical exposures before, during
and after the drug-making process.
Crystal meth, a highly addictive and potentially lethal drug, is
a relatively new problem for the OPP. More prevalent in western Canada, crystal
meth has been familiar to police in Ontario for only about four years, and the
chemical processes are quite different from what’s present at a more common
Five years ago, meth labs were
unknown in Ontario. Now they are a common occurance, especially in Perth
County and other parts of south-western Ontario. It seems to be moving east,
and it’s a growing trend.
Crystal meth is made by “cooking” pseudo ephedrine with a
variety of chemicals which are readily found at hardware stores, such as red
phosphorous, iodine, ammonia, paint thinner and lithium from batteries.
There have been no known incidents of injuries caused in Ontario
by exposure to crystal meth labs, but police officers south of the border have
suffered serious injuries dealing with substances such as propane, starter fluid
and drain cleaner which are used in the drug manufacturing process.
Weapons are very common in meth labs. People who use meth are
very paranoid about everything. They are worried that
they will be caught by the police and will use any
means to not get caught.
As production expands to other parts of the province, anyone
unfamiliar with a crystal meth lab could be putting their life at risk if they
don’t know what they’re walking into.
a meth lab - what to look out for.
Here’s a checklist of common signs of meth manufacturing
inside and outside a house:
Strong smell of urine, or
unusual chemical odours like ether, ammonia or acetone.
Windows blacked-out, traffic
at odd hours, people going outside to smoke.
Signs of chemical burns and
spills - dark red phosphorous stains in the sinks, toilets or bathtubs, or
red staining on the interior walls, countertops and flooring.
Visible areas in the yard
where chemicals have been dumped, or burn pits with chemical container
remains, dead or dying vegetation.
Packaging or containers from
large quantities of cold medicines.
Jars containing clear liquid
with a white or red-coloured solid on the bottom, jars with shiny metallic
purple crystals inside, bottles or jars with rubber tubing attached.
Glass cookware or frying
pans containing a powdery residue.
Coffee filters unused and
used with red stains, white paste or small amounts of shiny white crystals
Soft silver or gray metallic
ribbon (in chunk form) stored in oil or Kerosene.
tanks with fittings that have turned blue or green.
Excessive trash with large
amounts of the following:
alcohol, benzene, toluene/paint thinner, Freon, acetone, chloroform, camp
stove fuel, starter fluid,
anhydrous ammonia, Heet, white gasoline, phenyl-2-propane, phenyl acetone,
phenyl propanolamine, iodine crystals, red phosphorous, black iodine, lye,
Drano, muriatic or hydrochloric acid, battery acid or sulphuric acid, Epsom
salts, batteries/lithium, sodium metal, wooden matches, propane cylinders,
hot plates, ephedrine, pseudo-ephedrine, cold tablets, bronchodilators,
energy boosters, rock salt, diet aids
Police advise against entering a
house exhibiting any of these signs because it could be a crime scene, and even
more importantly, it could be hazardous to your health and safety. They
recommend reporting any suspected meth labs to the local city or provincial
If you suspect a meth lab, leave at once and
- Do not open any coolers.
- Do not touch any items.
- Handling methamphetamine waste residue can burn your skin and eyes,
and breathing in the gases can send you to the hospital.
- Handling these chemicals with unprotected skin, or getting the dust
in your eyes can cause serious damage.
To avoid the possibility of fire, explosion, death or serious illness, only
trained and properly equipped workers can dismantle a lab and take the remnants
away for disposal, usually in sealed 55-gallon drums.
Every pound of
methamphetamine produced creates anywhere from 5 to 7 pounds of waste. Waste
products include solvents and corrosives.
Cleanups of labs are extremely resource-intensive and beyond the financial
capabilities of most jurisdictions. The average
cost of a cleanup is about $5,000 - but some cost up
to $100,000 or more.
If you require immediate assistance please dial
*OPP on your cell phone
To report a crime or occurrence in
your area, do one of the following:
Call the OPP 24 hour toll free
telephone number 1-888-310-1122.
To communicate via a telephone device for the deaf (TDD/TTY),
the number is 1-888-310-1133.
Call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-Tips
More photos of clandestine meth labs, and materials
used in the production of crystal methamphetamine:
Small home or apartment, tabletop methamphetamine labs
Stained coffee filters, pop bottles used to make methamphetamine
1. Stained coffee filters
2. Empty pseudo ephedrine blister packs
3. Strong solvent or ammonia odours*
6. Denatured alcohol
7. Red Devil Lye
8. Red Phosphorous*
9. Lithium batteries
10. Anhydrous Ammonia*
11. Heet or gas-line treatments with methyl alcohol
12. Drain cleaner with sulphuric acid
13. Heat source*
14. Glassware (beakers or mason jars)
15. Coffee grinder with white powder residue*
16. Stained tubing*
17. Hypodermic syringes
18. Written recipes*
*Items to be aware of but not in photo
Collection of over-the-counter cold remedies and other
Backyard methamphetamine lab, containers of toxic chemicals
"Beavis & Butthead" or "Mom & Pop"
meth lab easily hidden in car trunk.
Cleanup of toxic waste at meth lab site.
"Homes A-Z" Library