Since I began this blog for my son and his family, I have gotten questions from readers about the health consequences of exposure to the toxins produced by meth labs. Personally, the health problems that my grandson, who is 2, is experiencing may be a consequence of his living in a home that was once used as a meth lab. At this point, we don’t really know what’s happening with him. All we know is that he is having problems that are indicative of some kind of brain malfunctioning. We haven’t gotten an “official diagnoses” of his condition, however I suspect it may be Autism. You can read more about my grandson in my earlier posting called “Autism and Meth“.
If you are new to reading this blog, you need to read my son’s meth lab home story. He is not, nor has he ever been, nor has anyone in his family or any of their friends, ever been involved in manufacturing meth. In fact, they don’t know anyone who uses illegal drugs, never mind manufactures them! They are, however, victims of the toxins that remain when a home is used as a meth lab. Please read my son’s story and learn from it.
The Washington State Environmental Health and Safety agency has provided the following information about how meth labs can affect a person’s health.
Possible Health Effects
- The risk of injury from chemical exposure depends on the chemical itself, the concentration, the quantity, and the length and route of exposure. Chemicals may enter the body by being breathed, eaten, injected (by a contaminated needle or accidental skin prick), or absorbed by the skin.
- An acute chemical exposure is one that occurs over a relatively short period of time and may result in health effects. An acute exposure to high levels of contaminants found in methamphetamine labs cause shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, dizziness, lack of coordination, chemical irritation, and burns to the skin, eyes, mouth and nose, and in severe cases, death. Acute reactions of this nature could occur during or immediately after a drug bust, before the lab has been ventilated.
- Less severe symptoms resulting from a less acute exposure cause headache, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue or lethargy. These symptoms have been known to occur in people who have entered a drug lab after the bust has been completed, but before the property has been adequately cleaned and ventilated. These symptoms
- Inhalation or skin exposure may result in injury from corrosive substances present in a methamphetamine lab. Symptoms range from shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, to burns to the skin.
- Exposure to solvents can irritate the skin, mucous membranes, respiratory tract, and cause central nervous system effects. They are also dangerous because of their fire and explosive properties.
- Chronic exposure occurs over an extended period of time, such as weeks, months, or years. A chronic health effect is one that usually appears after a lengthy period of time, possibly years. Not much is known about the chronic health effects from these labs. However, there is scientific evidence from animal and human toxicity studies that shows the chemicals used in the manufacture of this drug can cause a range of health effects. These include cancer, damage to the brain, liver and kidneys, birth defects, and reproductive problems, such as miscarriages.
If you suspect a dwelling or property may be an illegal lab, contact your local police, or sheriff’s department. If you own property which has been used as an illegal lab and would like a list of chemicals confiscated during the bust, contact the law enforcement agency responsible for the bust, such as local police or sheriff, State Patrol, or Federal Drug Enforcement Administration.