Can Meth Labs Be Cleaned-up?

by Carl Brahe, Certified Home inspector, CCI

(Ed: Colorado law requires that known methamphetamine  labs be clean-up before sale. The question is how effective are those procedures and chemicals used to clean former meth labs.)

Haz Mat Team cleans known Colorado meth lab

Haz Mat Team cleans known Colorado meth lab

I recently received a phone call from a marketer for a company that specializes in cleaning meth labs using a binary foam developed for killing anthrax. He wanted me to promote his company on my website. His emails appear below.

I wrote about this product a few years ago when a formula was developed for mold remediation. It seems that this product does indeed kill mold, but fails to perform to the level of the manufacturers claims. I have removed this article from my website.

I have been hearing claims about cleaning and neutralizing all the chemical contamination from meth labs using this product.

Known chemicals used to produce methamphedamine

Known chemicals used to produce methamphadamine

I know little about chemistry, but I do know that making meth uses a lot of different kinds of chemicals. It never seemed likely to me that a single compound could simultaneously clean and neutralize all these different chemicals.

I have asked each person who claims to be able to achieve this feat if they had actual scientific testing to support their claims. Each has assured me that they did indeed have documentation of this testing. I asked each to send me the tests with the assurance that if they provided me with documentation of studies that I would promote them on my website. The documentation never arrived and each claimant was never heard from again until recently.

Greg Charillon from Decongreen Inc called to talk about his product and company. I asked for further info. The resulting emails follow verbatim.

Tue 12/2/2008 5:10 PM

“Carl,

Following our conversation, attached please find our documentation.

EPA approved, Decongreen is a new solution designed specifically for the needs of improving indoor air quality.
Decongreen provides an eco friendly solution to kill on contact mold, bacteria, fungus, and virus. Unlike other solutions that require costly and invasive demolition, Decongreen offers a one step application that is completely safe for people and pets.

We are specializing in Meth houses and crime scenes.

Please review our documentation and feel free to contact us at 877-29DECON (33266) X2. Our specialist will answer all your questions.

Best regards,

Greg Charillon
Sales Manager
direct: 310-975-4509″ This pdf was attached

Mon 12/15/2008 4:24 PM

“Hi Carl,

Just touching base with you to let you know I haven’t forgotten about getting you the documentation on Meth Lab cleanup. That request is in, and I should have the data to you soon. 

I’ll touch base with you in a couple of days.

Regards,

Michael Holmes”

Tue 12/16/2008 12:41 PM

“HI Carl, I’m not sure if you were able to open the link I sent you yesterday, so here it is again; my apologies for the inconvenience.

“EPA approved, Decongreen is a unique solution designed specifically for the needs of improving indoor air quality.

Decongreen provides an eco friendly product that kills mold, bacteria, fungus and virus on contact. Unlike other solutions which require costly and invasive demolition, Decongreen offers a one step application that is completely safe for people and pets.

Pass the inspection or we will refund your money.

Documentation: http://www.decongreeninc.com/DeconGreen.pdf

As a special offer to new customers, we are offering the 5 year extended warranty free of charge on any prevention or remediation services.

Contact us now for a free estimate by calling 877-29 DECON (33266)

Michael Holmes

Direct 626 602 6853″

Wed 1/21/2009 8:35 AM

“Greetings Carl,

I do apologize for this information taking so long, but here it is now. We had discussed providing you with the supporting documentation on Meth Lab testing. Here it is now. Specifically, we are seeking referrals for decontamination and prevention jobs for Mold, meth-lab cleanup, and hospital and gym bacterial prevention and clean up.

Please take a moment to review this, and I will get back to you shortly.

Regards,

Michael Holmes”

Wed 1/21/2009 3:05 PM

“Sorry about that… here it is.

From: Michael Holmes [mailto:michael@decongreeninc.com]
Sent: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 7:35 AM
To: ‘Carl Brahe (carl@inspection-perfection.com)’
Subject: Greetings from Decongreen inc. Here is the supporting documentation the Meth Labs I had promised you

Greetings Carl,

I do apologize for this information taking so long, but here it is now. We had discussed providing you with the supporting documentation on Meth Lab testing. Here it is now. Specifically, we are seeking referrals for decontamination and prevention jobs for Mold, meth-lab cleanup, and hospital and gym bacterial prevention and clean up.

Please take a moment to review this, and I will get back to you shortly.

Regards,

Michael Holmes ” This was attached

Wed 1/21/2009 4:06 PM

“HI Carl,

Hydrogen Peroxide combined with Quaternary Ammonium Compounds, Benzyl-C12-18 Alkyl Dimethyl.

As previously mentioned it has a long standing history of use in bio terrorism, and is now used for mold, bacteria, virus, and meth lab clean up.

Regards,

Michael Holmes

From: Carl Brahe [mailto:carl@inspection-perfection.com]
Sent: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 2:35 PM
To: ‘Michael Holmes’
Subject: RE: Greetings from Decongreen inc. Here is the supporting documentation the Meth Labs I had promised you

Michael,

This says nothing abot the chemicals use in manufacture. What about them?

Carl ”

I felt that I was being conned and sent this series of emails to Caoimhin Connell, industrial Hygienist asking his opinion. Here is his reply:

“Good morning, Carl:

Thanks for email. The information from Mr. Holmes is mostly just smoke and mirrors. No – he didn’t answer your question; and your question is quite valid.

It has been long known that hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) will alter the molecular structure of methamphetamine, resulting in a reduction in values upon subsequent sampling. However, H2O2 has no effect on most of the other contaminants that are of concern. Since methamphetamine is merely the surrogate compound by which we commonly judge the reduction of all other contaminants, the exclusive use of an oxidant merely reduces the surrogate and leaves all the other contaminants behind at their original concentrations.

It is for this reason, the State of Colorado CDPHE prohibits the exclusive use of H2O2, and also prohibits the use of any cleaning agent wherein H2O2 is the primary active ingredient, and prohibits the use of any cleaning technique wherein oxidation is the primary mode of methamphetamine reduction. I have a policy statement somewhere on the issue and I can dig it up if you’re interested.

The documentation described as four “case studies” are not case studies at all – they are just lab results of various areas; and “Case Study #4″ doesn’t even compare the results with anything at all – it just says ” A following decontamination application removed meth contamination.” Bad grammar notwithstanding, for all we know, they used Ivory Liquid and achieved acceptable results – since no results were reproduced and no information was provided on how decontamination was achieved, there is essentially no information provided.

Case Study #3 compares dissimilar areas.

Case Study #2 may similarly compare dissimilar areas; there is insufficient information to know, since a lab report isn’t a case study.

The sampling error associated with samples collected from a methlab are HUGE. When I wrote the initial sampling sections for the Colorado Regs, my initial protocol was specifically designed to accommodate that error. The sampling error is even demonstrated in Mr. Holmes own data – if for example, if we look at “Case Study #2,” we see that the Shapiro W Test indicates a lognormal distribution, wherein the geometric standard deviation is huge: 33.7 units. The net result is that sampling error is massive for this property (as expected).

I can go into a heavily contaminated methlab and collect ten samples that all show heavy contamination. I can then go back into the same property minutes later and selectively collect ten more samples that will show NO contamination at all. The validity of the samples are incumbent not on the lab (as insinuated by Mr. Holmes), but rather incumbent on the qualifications of the Industrial Hygienist who has performed the sampling, and whether or not they are qualified and authorized to even collect the samples at all. There are several fraudulent consultants pretending to be Industrial Hygienists who are not Industrial Hygienists at all, and they are not authorized to perform methlab work.

And just because someone is a real Industrial Hygienist doesn’t mean they are authorized by regulations to perform methlab assessments. In 2007, I testified against a Certified Industrial Hygienist with Ph.D. in Chemistry in a methlab case. He so poorly understood the sampling issues and so poorly understood methlabs, and so poorly understood Colorado’s regulations, that he completely botched the job. In the end, the courts threw out his report, and his samples results and ruled that he lacked technical competency to do the work and he wasn’t even authorized to have performed the work in the first place.

Case Study #4 says “Lab tests performed by Analytical Chemistry…” I can assure you that simply is not true. Mia Sazon, and Analytical Chemistry merely analyze samples – they don’t collect samples, they don’t perform sampling, they don’t know where such samples come from, they don’t know the validity of the samples, and they make no such statements as to validity, accuracy, precision, interpretation or appropriateness of the samples they receive.

In conclusion, Mr. Holme’s information does not support any argument that their product has any advantage over the use of Tide laundry detergent, or Ivory soap or any other detergent diligently applied during a methlab clean-up. Certainly, there is nothing in his documentation or answers that indicate the product addresses ANY of the methlab contaminants other than meth. As a reminder, the Industrial Hygienist is also required by regulation to address other contaminants in their final assessment including iodine, lead, mercury and others.

Quaternary ammonium compounds and the alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride compound have been around for decades as topical disinfectants- but have no particular application in remediation of moulds or even Bacteria in residential water intrusion projects or mould remediation projects. Several studies have demonstrated that the application of such compounds have no benefit over a normal proper remediation in the absence of such topicals. In fact, the US EPA goes a step further and recommends AGAINST the use of such compounds in mould remediation projects. In our indoor mould remediation scopes of work (which I have been writing now for over 15 years), we explicitly prohibit the use of such topicals, since they merely increase the cost of the project, and offer no benefit in return.

I hope that helps Carl – Feel free to share this email with Mr. Holmes.

Cheers!
Caoimhín P. Connell
Forensic Industrial Hygienist
www.forensic-applications.com

I sent this email to Michael Homes and have received no reply in 3 weeks:

Thu 1/22/2009 9:29 AM,

” Michael,

I sent your info to my industrial hygienist, who also happens to be the authority on meth in CO. What is your reposnse?

Carl ”

This is the most information that any company promoting the use of these compounds have produced on request. It appears that this product does not live up to claims. Here is the information that I have available. Decide for yourself.

Comments

  1. Mike Powers says

    This article on Decongreen inc, what a joke, have you looked up their website. First thing to tip me off was that they stated they were EPA Approved. BULL EPA does not approve anything, They only Register Products. Anybody with Brains will verify this.

  2. says

    Thank you for sharing all the information you have gathered. I had no idea until reading your article how exhausting the cleanup process must be. I don’t live in an area where Meth Labs are frequently ran across so your information was truly a gap filler for me.

  3. says

    Carl,
    My company does meth lab decontamination in the Rocky Mountain Region, we do not just use one product to clean properties, just because of the many chemicals present. The other considerations are the types of surfaces that are contaminated and the manner in which the property was originally contaminated, by use or manufacture. Yes, meth properties can be cleaned to the Colorado State Standards by a qualified and experienced remediation company.

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