“Toxic chemicals can be ingested either by consuming contaminated food or beverages or by inadvertently consuming the chemicals directly. (Young children present at laboratory sites are at particular risk of ingesting chemicals.) Ingesting toxic chemicals—or methamphetamine itself—may result in potentially fatal poisoning, internal chemical burns, damage to organ function, and harm to neurological and immunologic functioning.
In addition, methamphetamine production threatens the environment. The average methamphetamine laboratory produces 5 to 7 pounds of toxic waste for every pound of methamphetamine produced. Operators often dispose of this waste improperly, simply by dumping it near the laboratory. This can cause contamination of the soil and nearby water supplies.
The chemicals used to produce methamphetamine are extremely hazardous. Some are highly volatile and may ignite or explode if mixed or stored improperly. Fire and explosion pose risks not only to the individuals producing the drug but also to anyone in the surrounding area, including children, neighbors, and passersby. Even when fire or explosion does not occur, methamphetamine production is dangerous. Simply being exposed to the toxic chemicals used to produce the drug poses a variety of health risks, including intoxication, dizziness, nausea, disorientation, lack of coordination, pulmonary edema, serious respiratory problems, severe chemical burns, and damage to internal organs.”
– National Drug Intelligence Center, a component of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Acetone and Alcohol (denatured, isopropyl, rubbing) -“Extremely flammable, posing a fire risk in and around the laboratory. Inhalation or ingestion of these solvents causes severe gastric irritation, narcosis, or coma.” – DEA Office of Diversion Control.
Anhydrous ammonia or ammonium sulfate (crop fertilizer)- “A colorless gas with a pungent, suffocating odor. Inhalation causes edema of the respiratory tract and asphyxia. Contact with vapors damages eyes and mucous membranes.” -DEA Office of Diversion Control.
“Anhydrous ammonia, a colorless gas with a pungent, suffocating fumes, is used primarily as an agricultural fertilizer and industrial refrigerant. (1). Anhydrous ammonia is also a key ingredient for illicit methamphetamine (meth) production in makeshift laboratories. Exposure to anhydrous ammonia can be immediately dangerous to life or health (1,2). Anhydrous ammonia generally is not available for sale to the public; states require a license for purchase. Because of this, many illicit meth producers (i.e., “cookers”) resort to stealing anhydrous ammonia. If released into the environment, anhydrous ammonia can cause acute injuries to emergency responders, the public, and the cookers themselves. In addition, when handled improperly, anhydrous ammonia can be explosive and deadly.” – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Sulfuric acid is an acid found in batteries
Bleach – used for cleaning
Ephedrine or pseudoephedrine – (found in some cold or allergy pills)- “Ingestion of doses greater than 240 mg causes hypertension, arrhythmia, anxiety, dizziness, and vomiting. Ingestion of doses greater than 600 mg can lead to renal failure and seizures.” – DEA Office of Diversion Control.
Freon – “Inhalation can cause sudden cardiac arrest or severe lung damage. It is corrosive if ingested.” – DEA Office of Diversion Control.
Naphtha – (found in Coleman camping fuel)
Sulfuric acid – used in drain cleaner products
Sodium hydroxide used in drain cleaners like Red Devil lye
Methanol or Methyl Alcohol used as a gasoline additive found in the products Heet” or Iso-Heet”
Hydriotic Acid – “A corrosive acid with vapors that are irritating to the respiratory system, eyes, and skin. If ingested, causes severe internal irritation and damage that may cause death.” – DEA Office of Diversion Control.
Iodine (crystal or liquid tincture). “Gives off vapor that is irritating to respiratory system and eyes. Solid form irritates the eyes and may burn skin. If ingested, cause severe internal damage.” – DEA Office of Diversion Control.
Phenylpropanolamine – “Ingestion of doses greater than 75 mg causes hypertension, arrhythmia, anxiety, and dizziness. Quantities greater than 300 mg can lead to renal failure, seizures, stroke, and death.”- DEA Office of Diversion Control.
Lithium batteries – “Extremely caustic to all body tissues. Reacts violently with water and poses a fire or explosion hazard.” – DEA Office of Diversion Control.
Red Phosphorous – found on Match book striker plates. Red phosphorus is unstable and flammable and can cause explosions and chemical fires if exposed to a flame or spark.
“Red Phosphorous ignites if heated above 260°C. Vapor from ignited phosphorus severely irritates the nose, throat, lungs, and eyes.” – DEA Office of Diversion Control.
Methyl Choloride – Mineral spirits
Muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid) found in driveway and brickand pool cleaners
Salt (table or rock)
Sodium or lithium metal
Organic ether – used in starting fluid
Trichloroethane used as a gun cleaning solvent
Information (below) from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, First Responder Awareness training manual
Acetic acid – Flammable; vapor is irritating if inhaled; can cause severe burns to eyes and skin; poisonous if ingested.
Acetic anhydride – Flammable; vapor is irritating if inhaled; liquid may burn eyes and skin severely; ingestion causes irritation, pain and vomiting.
Acetone – Highly flammable; vapor irritates eyes and nose in high concentrations; inhalation may cause dizziness, narcosis or coma; liquid may severely damage eyes; ingestion can cause coma.
Benzyl chloride– Vapor irritates respiratory system, mucous membranes, eyes and skin; liquid can cause burns; poisonous if ingested.
Ephedrine – Harmful if swallowed in large quantities.
Ethyl alcohol – Highly flammable; causes impaired perception and coordination in high concentrations.
Ethyl amine – Vapor irritates the mucous membranes, respiratory system and eyes; may affect the central nervous system in high concentrations; liquid irritates eyes and skin; poisonous if ingested.
Ethyl ether – Highly flammable; inhaling vapor or ingesting liquid may cause drowsiness, dizziness, mental confusion, faintness and, in high concentrations, unconsciousness.
Hydriodic acid – Vapor irritates respiratory system, skin and eyes, liquid causes severe burns to eyes and skin; may cause severe internal irritation and damage if ingested.
Hydrochloric acid – Inhaling may cause coughing, choking and inflammation and ulceration of the respiratory tract; concentrated solutions cause severe burns; strongly corrosive; causes eye irritation; prolonged exposure to vapors can cause death.
Iodine – Vapor irritates respiratory system and eyes; solid form irritates eyes and may burn the skin; poisonous if ingested.
Isopropyl alcohol – Flammable; inhaling vapor in high concentrations or ingesting liquid may cause headaches, dizziness, depression, nausea, vomiting or coma; liquid can cause severe eye damage.
Nitroethane – Vapor irritates eyes and respiratory system; liquid irritates eyes and mucous membranes; absorption via skin contact or ingestion may cause liver and kidney damage.
Petroleum ether – Highly flammable; toxic.
Phenyl-2-propanone – Irritating to skin and eyes.
Phenylacetic acid – Moderately toxic by ingestion; has been linked to cancer in animal experiments; emits smoke and irritating fumes when heated.
Pseudoephedrine – Harmful if swallowed in large quantities; irritating to skin and eyes.
Red phosphorous – Vapors can irritate the nose, throat, lungs and eyes.
Sodium hydroxide – Concentrated material is very corrosive to human tissue; solid form or liquid can cause severe burns to eyes and skin; poisonous if ingested.
Sulfuric acid – Concentrated acid is extremely corrosive to skin; causes severe burns.
Thionyl chloride – Causes burns; irritating to respiratory system if inhaled; may ignite other combustible material.
Toluene – Flammable; can burn or irritate mucous membranes, eyes and respiratory tract; vapors may cause dizziness.
According to the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, the presence of the following items could indicate the existence of a meth lab:
Camp Stove Fuel/Coleman Fuel
Lye (Red Devil Lye)
Battery Acid/Sulfuric Acid