The Kent County Sheriff Department is warning volunteers who pick up trash along side the roadways to be careful. There is a new and dangerous hazard to watch out for—potentially toxic debris discarded from methamphetamine labs.
Meth is a highly addictive stimulant that can be made using common household chemicals and equipment and common cold remedies containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine (such as Sudafed and Actifed).
Clean-up crews who come across materials used to make the drug can be burned or their lungs damaged from inhaling fumes. Undersheriff Jon Hess says that if you encounter any of the signs of a meth lab, leave the area immediately and call 911 or MDOT. Do not touch anything if you suspect it may be meth lab waste. The waste can be extremely dangerous and may even be booby-trapped. Entire labs can be found in tool boxes, coolers, or other storage containers. Mobile meth labs are becoming more common, and labs are sometimes run out of car trunks and RVs and discarded on our roadways.
Clues indicating a dumpsite include:
• empty bottles attached to a rubber hose
• the smell of ammonia
• coffee filters stained red or containing a white powder residue
• garbage bags with cat litter (can contain deadly gases and are sometimes called “death bags”)
• corroded propane tanks
• empty or used alcohol products
• numerous empty cold medicine and diet pill bottles or blister packs
• unused matches without striker plates
Don’t try to remove unknown or suspected toxic substances. Notify MDOT or the police of the location of these items immediately.
“Meth lab waste is very serious. Your safety comes first!” says Hess.