by Richard Driscoll
Meth lab cleanup and decontamination — to many just like you — sounds like a highly profitable diversification opportunity for a cleaning or restoration company.
Stop. Not so fast.
Meth lab cleanup and decontamination is a very special form of work. Before getting into this business, there are some issues to consider.
It is important to first find out the meth lab cleanup regulations in the state you will be working in.
As an example, to perform meth lab clean up and decontamination work in Tennessee, you must complete the state-provided meth lab cleanup course and then pass an exam in order to obtain the required licensing. Other states have different requirements, and individual states keep changing their requirements. In the states that require licensing, the licensed remediator must be present when all work is performed.
Check with your state authorities on the laws that would affect you and your company.
Your employees must be properly trained in using personal protective equipment (PPE). Have all your employees been through the OSHA respirator program, and do you have documentation of this in their personnel file?
Without this, your company could be in trouble.
The business side
In most cases, meth lab cleanup and decontamination work is not covered by the owner’s insurance because, regardless of the affected building, apartment, hotel room, trailer, etc., you must clean and decontaminate, the meth was “added” to the building by the occupant. The actual cleaning process is similar to cleaning and decontaminating the structure as if it had been occupied by a very heavy cigarette smoker, smoking three packs a day in the structure. In other words, the occupants created the contamination, so — in most cases — there is no insurance coverage.
So… who pays for a meth lab cleanup?
Many of the cleanups are in “out of the way” locations such as a on remote roads or in what some might call less-than-desirable areas. After all, meth is produced while attempting to prevent police detection. Someone owns the site. They are responsible for payment. Is it worth it to them to spend their money to have the site cleaned? Or will they walk away, leaving the problem to someone else?
Those are some of the questions these property owners will have. Because of this, be sure the payment terms are clearly spelled out and contracts are signed by all parties.
The tech side
Finally, there is the actual cleanup and decontamination process.
This article can’t spell out all the details needed to perform the meth lab cleanup and decontamination process in its entirety, but it can provide a quick guide. Here’s what typical meth lab work looks like:
- Open the contaminated building, home, apartment or other site and install air movers to make forced air changes with the outside air (flush the contaminated site), making as many air changes as possible for a minimum of 12 hours.
- The soft goods, such as fabric- covered furniture, mattresses, box springs, drapes, etc., must be removed and discarded.
- Carpet and pad (if present) must be removed and discarded.
- All surfaces must be cleaned.
As an example, a kitchen must have the drawers removed and all sides cleaned. The wall at the “end” of the cabinet must be cleaned. Any surface that was exposed to the air must be cleaned. There are many ways to accomplish this, which is why proper training is important. Cleanup requires very detailed work and must be accomplished while wearing full PPE (suit, respirator, gloves, etc.).
Ask yourself if it’s right for you Meth lab cleanup and decontamination can be a profitable business segment to enter, but before you do so, you must have answers to three basic questions:
- What are the regulatory requirements in your state?
- Are employees properly trained?
- How will you assure payment?
If you can answer these questions in the positive, then this is a business opportunity for your company.
Richard Driscoll has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Clarkson College of Technology, an MBA from the University of Dayton and is currently working on his doctorate. He is a professor at Webster University where he provides graduate and undergraduate level lectures. He is an IICRC Certified Master Restorer, Master Textile Cleaner and an approved instructor. Driscoll has been consulted by state governments on legislation related to the cleaning and restoration industry. He also is the author and instructor for Restoration Sciences Academy’s MR-110 and MR-210 microbial remediation classes and MR-211 trauma scene clean up class. He can be reached at Richard@MayhemMishaps.com.