Volume 8, Issue 6 (June 2011)
Use of Direct Reading Surface Sampling Methods for Site Characterization and Remediation of Methamphetamine Contaminated Properties
Residual methamphetamine contamination in Clandestine laboratories represents a hazard to emergency response personnel, remediation workers and the general public. To address this threat, two rapid, sensitive surface sampling techniques to assess the location and level of methamphetamine contamination were developed. Both methods employ established industrial hygiene surface sampling materials (wipes and swabs) but differ in their sensitivity and detection technology. One method, based on colorimetric disclosure, detects and confirms a collected sample or visible residues. The second method uses a lateral flow immunochemical assay (LFIA) for semi-quantitative detection of trace contamination. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) partnered with public health agencies to develop applications of the methods for assessment of methamphetamine contamination of suspected properties. These applications focused on safe strategies for site assessment, hazard characterization, and remediation effectiveness. To conduct the field studies, NIOSH researchers and their partners visited more than a dozen suspected laboratories including mobile labs, abandoned properties, occupied residences, and motel rooms. NIOSH found greater than 95% agreement between positive identification of the presence of methamphetamine by LFIA and laboratory-based, liquid chromatography mass spectroscopy (LC–MS) methods. Test results were used to develop site assessments and make personal protective equipment recommendations. Results were also used to conduct process-based decontamination of properties and to make health-based decisions on remediation, re-occupancy of residences, as well as determine the degree of contamination of personal property in an inactive clandestine laboratory. By partnering with stakeholders, NIOSH was able to achieve two primary goals: (1) to develop a level of awareness in health department sanitarians, law enforcement personnel and other first responders that methamphetamine surface contamination was a potentially significant route of exposure; (2) to validate our methods in the field and to develop protocols for proper use and interpretation of the results.