Meth Lab Cleanup
Information about the cleanup of meth labs including guidelines for the process, responsibilities of parties involved, and a list of qualified remediation contractors.
If you have been issued a Notice of Public Health Nuisance (ten-day letter) regarding your property, the information below will help you understand what is required in order to remediate (cleanup) the property.
If your property has been declared a meth lab by a local authority, it has to be remediated (cleaned) according to the guidelines set by the Minnesota Department of Health.
Testing for meth levels before cleaning is not necessary. Cleanup needs to take place no matter what level of meth you detect in the property.
State statute requires declared meth labs to be remediated following the Minnesota Department of Health's Clandestine Drug Lab Cleanup Guidance.
- Clandestine Drug Lab General Cleanup Guidance (PDF)
This document includes information about identification of a meth lab, recommended cleanup procedures, and meth property testing information. It also includes a way to evaluate whether meth residue presents a health hazard in a residence.
The cleanup needs to be carried out by a professional hazardous material cleanup contractor. To find a contractor able to do the work, see MDH's Contractor List.
- MDH/MPCA Clandestine Lab Contractors' Procedural Report (PDF)
This report template is a recommended format for contractors to use to document the appraisal, cleanup, and testing process. This can be used, in full or in part, at the discretion of the local authority overseeing the cleanup.
The county official, the property owner, and the contractor need to be familiar with thethe guidance document and the process of the cleanup. For specific information on your responsibilities in the process, please see the following information pages:
Making a former meth lab site safer for habitation requires two basic efforts:
- Gross chemical removal: This is the process in which law enforcement or a Drug Enforcement Administration contractor removes the obvious dangers from the site. Obvious dangers include containers of chemicals, equipment, and apparatus that could be used to make illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia, and other illegal items. This process does not cleanup or remove chemical spills, stains or residue that could be harmful to inhabitants. A property that has had only a gross chemical removal is not fit for habitation.
- Remediation: The cleaning of interior structures and, if applicable, the surrounding land, surface waters and groundwater by a contractor: This is the process of removing the residue and waste from the site after the gross chemical removal is done. A property that has been remediated should present minimal health risk to occupants.
Prior to January 1, 2014, the State did not (but some counties did) require remediation of properties declared meth labs. Since January 1, 2014, the State requires remediation of all declared meth labs. The State also now requires affidavits be filed on the deed when a property is declared a meth lab and when the remediation is complete.
Minnesota law requires that any property or portion of a property that has been declared a clandestine lab site be remediated before it can be occupied.
In some situations, there may be reason to think that only a portion of the property is contaminated. This is often the case in apartment buildings or on properties that have multiple separate structures. A structure or portion of a structure can be excluded from remediation if a contractor proves the area in question is not contaminated.
Best practice to prove an area is not contaminated includes the following:
- The area must not have any chemical stains or odors.
- No materials associated with meth production are present or were found in the area.
- There must be a logical reason to believe that meth production did not occur in the area.
- The area must have less than 0.1 μg/100cm2 methamphetamine surface contamination.
Information on exclusion criteria can also be found in the Clandestine Drug Lab General Cleanup Guidance (PDF), section V, E.
If a laboratory is discovered while methamphetamine or other drugs are being processed, officers with clandestine lab response training or first responders with hazardous materials training should be the only personnel to enter the area in order to shut down the equipment and stop the process.
Private persons or personnel from other agencies who do not have clandestine lab response training or hazardous materials training who find a lab site should leave immediately, dial 911, and stay away from the site.
Drug lab sites are potentially dangerous and they are crime scenes. Law enforcement officers at the lab site will decide when and by whom the property can be entered. Lab sites should only be entered by persons accompanied by law enforcement personnel and after a warrant has been obtained.
Checklist for first response to a lab
A law enforcement officer who discovers an operating clandestine drug lab should immediately accomplish the following:
- Assure that all persons in the immediate area (including law enforcement personnel) are removed to a safe location. Depending upon the size of the lab and the amount of toxic chemicals being emitted this may involve evacuation of the neighborhood.
- If necessary, medical aid should be given.
- Suspects should be detained, or arrested if probable cause exists.
- Call for fire/hazmat to respond to the location.
- Do not attempt to stop the chemical reaction.
- Do not turn any electrical devices/lights on or off. The simple act of turning on an electrical switch may cause an explosion. In an explosive atmosphere even turning on a flashlight might cause an explosion.
- Do not shut off the water supply to the house or the chemical reaction.
- Establish an outer perimeter area and keep all unnecessary persons from entering.
- Call your nearest Clandestine Lab Investigation Team.
- Do not enter contaminated areas prior to ventilation, shutdown of equipment, and removal of chemicals and equipment.
- Minimize exposure by limiting time on-site and wearing protective clothing as needed.
- Evaluate exposure and take measures to contain or eliminate it, e.g., by washing exposed skin removing contaminated shoes or clothing.
- Take steps to avoid transporting contamination on yourself or someone in your care.
- Seek medical care if needed.
[Source: California Department of Justice]
Guidelines for staff from agencies other than law enforcement who are required to enter the scene are as follows:
Meth waste or other hazardous waste can harm the health of people who find and disturb it. Roadside clean-up groups should be informed, before they participate in clean-ups, about common meth lab discards.
The "Shake and Bake" method of making meth can be processed in cars and small spaces using commonly found items such as two-liter soda bottles. The waste generated from the process can be discarded on the roadside. If residue is visible inside of bottles found by the roadside, follow the recommendations in the Roadside Cleanup: Beware of Meth Lab Waste (PDF).
More information regarding roadside meth waste and roadside cleanup
Information for County Officials
- Declare a public health nuisance
The authority to abate public health nuisances is described in Minnesota Statutes, section 145.04, subdivision 8. Meth labs are classified as public health nuisances per Minnesota Statutes, section 152.0275, subdivision 2(d)
This will require you to issue a ten-day letter to the owner of the property:
MN Statute 145A.04 that describes the authority to abate public health nuisances sets this time-frame. The statute states that the authority "...shall order the owner or occupant of the property to remove or abate the threat within a time specified in the notice but not longer than ten days." Throughout this website, 'ten-day letter' and 'Notice of Public Health Nuisance' are used interchangeably.
This would require posting no-occupancy signs (similar to what you would do for a condemned property). For information on remediation, see What is Cleanup/Remediation?
- Declaring the property a meth lab
- Recording that remediation was completed
MDH recommends using the MDH/MPCA Clandestine Lab Contractors' Procedural Report (PDF) to document the assessment and cleanup process.
This involves visiting the meth lab site to check on progress and how the remediation is going.
You can recover costs of enforcement for removal and abatement of public health nuisances by following Minnesota Statutes, section 145A.08, subdivision 2.
Information for Contractors
MDH does not qualify, license, nor certify companies to clean up meth labs. Meth lab sites are considered to be hazardous waste sites under the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.120. Contractors are responsible for knowing and following the requirements set forth by CFR 1910.120.
The contractor requirements maintained in the Cleanup Guidance are not a complete list, and are intended to aid those not familiar with CFR 1910.120. It provides a general idea of the required training and programs that a contractor will need in place to be qualified to perform meth lab remediation (See: What is Cleanup/Remediation?):
- Project Manager trained as a Professional Engineer, Certified Industrial Hygienist, Certified Safety Planner, or Certified Hazardous Materials Manager
- OSHA Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) training – 40 hours for managers, 24 hours for other site workers
- Safety and health program and associated employee training
- Personal protective equipment program
- Spill containment program
- Health hazard monitoring procedures and techniques
- Other additional requirements set forth by CFR 1910.120
For more information and to see the rest of the guide to the contractor requirements, see Clandestine Drug Lab General Cleanup Guidance (PDF), Appendix B.
If you meet the requirements and would like to be listed on the Meth Lab Program website, send a letter to MDH and include the following information:
- The fact that your company meets the requirements of CFR 1920.120 and has the appropriate safety programs in place.
- The name of the certified laboratory that you have contracted with for analysis. Analytic laboratories include those certified by the Minnesota Department of Health Public Health Laboratory, an equivalent state certification program from another state, or the US Environmental Protection Agency.
- The name of the vendor your company has a contract with for hazardous waste disposal.
Include your company contact information for posting on the contractor list on MDH's website.
Send the letter to:
Minnesota Department of Health
Environmental Health Division
Meth Lab Program
PO Box 64975
St. Paul, MN 55164-0975
Contractors work for property owners and with local authorities to assess, sample, clean, and dispose of wastes and materials removed from the property.
Contractors should understand and complete remediation according to the guidance and under oversight of the local authority.
The MDH/MPCA Clandestine Lab Contractors' Procedural Report (PDF) is recommended for use to document their work to the extent required by the local authority.
What is the difference between “Gross Chemical Removal” and “Remediation”?
Gross chemical removal is the process in which a Drug Enforcement Administration contractor removes containers of chemicals, drug paraphernalia, and other illegal items. Remediation is the process of removing residue and waste left after the gross chemical removal is done. This residue is on the surfaces of the property including walls, floors, carpets, clothes, and curtains. A property that has had only a gross chemical removal is not fit for habitation. A property that has been remediated should be safe for occupants.
Information for Property Owners
If you own rental property, you may also be interested in Information for Landlords.
This is a letter declaring your property a public health nuisance and outlining what actions you have to take. Minnesota Statute (section 152.0275, subdivision 2(d)) defines meth lab properties as public health nuisances. The process for dealing with a public health nuisance is also set out in Minnesota Statute. Section 145A.04, subdivision 8 describes the authority to abate a public health nuisance and sets a time-frame by stating that the local authority "…shall order the owner or occupant of the property to remove or abate the threat within a time specified in the notice but not longer than ten days."
If you have received a ten-day letter from your local authority about a property you own that was a meth lab, you are responsible for cleaning that property up. Your responsibilities in the process are outlined below.
Cost of remediation.
- The 2005 meth legislation states that the lab operator (meth cook) can be required to pay restitution to public entities and property owners for costs associated with lab response and remediation.
- To view a summary of the 2005 legislation or link to the full text, see Laws Regarding Meth Response in MN
- For a definition of cleanup, see What is Cleanup/Remediation?
Hire a professional hazardous waste cleanup contractor to perform the remediation.
- For a list of contractors, see Contractor List
Understand the work plan and monitor progress at the site.
- For information on the process and cleanup requirements, see Cleanup Requirements
Work with the local authority overseeing the cleanup.
- The local authority will be identified in the Notice of Public Health Nuisance (ten-day letter)
There are several things to look for and resources to use to determine if a property was a meth lab.
- If you think there is an active lab on or near your property, there are several signs to look for; these include large amounts of waste (like pill bottles, empty chemical containers or bottles/containers with rubber tubing) or things like covered windows, burn pits or strong chemical odors. For more detail, see Ways to Recognize a Meth Lab.
- If a property was declared a meth lab by local authorities after January 1, 2006, affidavits attached to the title of the property will describe the meth lab. Lists of these properties are maintained by local Community Health Services Agencies. Find their contact information here: Methamphetamine Contact Information for County/City Local Health Departments in Minnesota
- MDH has a partial list of properties declared meth labs before January 2006. If you want to see if your property is on that list, seeMeth Lab Program Contact Information
- Finally, if you cannot find information on the property and you are still concerned, you can test the property for meth residue. This can be done either by hiring a professional contractor or using at-home test kits that can be purchased online. Find details more in Testing Process and Results.
You can find steps to follow and resources to use to help you determine if a property used to be a meth lab here: Was This Property a Meth Lab?
MDH does not license, regulate, permit, or otherwise certify companies to clean up clandestine drug labs.
The following contractors stated they have the training and ability to remediate meth labs in accordance with the Minnesota Department of Health's clandestine drug labs general cleanup guidelines.
5005 Boone Avenue North
New Hope, MN 55428
Office Phone: (763) 315-4818
Cell Phone: (612) 201-3740
Contact: Steve Carlson
5 Empire Drive
Saint Paul, MN 55103
Phone: (651) 291-3412
Contact: Pat Martin
13393 207th Ave
Elk River, MN 55330
Phone: (763) 441-4859
Contact: Mark Leaden
13055 Riverdale Drive NW
Coon Rapids, MN 55448
Phone: (763) 712-8087
24139 Greenway Road #A
Forest Lake, MN 55025
Contact: Mark Kropidlowski President & CEO
PO Box 231
Marion, SD 57043
Phone (cell): 605-940-5826
Contact: Joe NewComb
11922 North Meadow Curve
Lindstrom, MN 55045
Toll Free Phone: (1-877-417-2666)
1010 Dale Street N
Saint Paul, MN 55117-5603
Toll Free Phone: (800) 959-6384
3890 Pheasant Ridge Drive NE
Blaine, MN 55449
PO Box 18622
Minneapolis, MN 55418-0622
Toll Free Phone: (800) 924-METH (6384)
Contact: Perry Ebner
6615 141st Ave NW
Ramsey, MN 55303
2751 Hennepin Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55408
Phone (Twin Cities): (612) 255-9578
Phone (Outstate Minnesota): (320) 321-0209
444 Cedar Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
Phone: Toll Free (866) 993-3266