According to the World Health Organization, methamphetamine (or “meth”) is the second most common illicit drug in the world after marijuana. Meth provides users with an intense high but its use leads to harmful side effects. Short-term use can cause convulsions, stroke, cardiac arrhythmia and hyperthermia. Long-term use can lead to irreversible brain and heart damage, psychotic behavior, visual and auditory hallucinations, rages and violence. The economic effect of the health problems associated with meth use runs into the billions. It is estimated that in 2005, health costs associated with meth use, including drug treatment, symptom treatment, and premature death, totaled $17.5 billion in the United States.
Meth production is an often overlooked danger involving meth. To produce meth, illicit labs use toxic chemicals, and for every pound of meth produced, five pounds of toxic waste are also created. However, this drug’s health threat continues to persist even after the meth lab is shut down. The process of cooking meth can pollute the carpets, walls, plaster, wood surfaces and soil of a meth lab house, leaving unsuspecting residents anaware of their exposure.
The issue brief addresses how meth labs pose a public health problem, notes the different ways states are addressing meth lab cleanup, and provides questions lawmakers should consider in reviewing their state’s meth cleanup laws.
The 50-state survey provides information on liability, cleanup and disclosure laws and regulations regarding meth lab cleanup.