For every pound of meth produced, approximately five pounds of toxic waste is generated. This waste may include corrosive liquids, acid vapors, heavy metals, solvents and other harmful materials. Because of the illicit nature of methamphetamine production, waste is often dumped haphazardly, contaminating water sources used by humans and animals. When meth is being “cooked” in a lab, the vapors produced saturate every porous surface in the building, often making them uninhabitable. These vapors can also be highly volatile, sometimes leading to explosions that can severly burn or kill the individual ”cooking” the meth, as well as other individuals in the house, or close neighbors.
The toxic nature of these sites requires specialized clean-up techniques. These costs frequently run thousands of dollars per incident, requiring funds to come from the already tight budgets of local law enforcement or property owners.
Hidden Costs Associated with Manufacturing and Using Meth
- Hospitals are often forced to cover very expensive treatments for meth lab explosion burn victims.
- Meth’s impact on the criminal justice system is expansive. In Vanderburgh County, increasing amounts of taxpayer money are needed to house, feed and medicate inmates, many of whom have been arrested on meth-related charges.
- It is expensive and time-consuming to certify law enforcement officers to safely seize a meth lab. The health of those officers must be closely monitored because of their presence at lab sites. Equipment used in meth investigations is costly, and much of it must be destroyed after each use because of contamination.
- The buildings where meth labs are seized can be quarantined for weeks, sometimes months, by law enforcement officiers until deemed livable by cleanup officials. These places include rental properties and individually owned properties in every neighborhood in Vanderburgh County.