Methamphetamine and Meth Labs
What are the potential health effects from exposure to a meth lab?
Health effects caused by exposure to meth lab chemicals which enter the body by being breathed, eaten or absorbed through the skin will depend on the lab process and chemicals used, the amount of chemical and length of exposure, and the age and health of the person exposed.
Children are especially vulnerable to health affects due to their contact with contaminated surfaces and hand to mouth behavior.
Acute Exposure - Occur over a short period of time.
Physical effects can include:
- Shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, dizziness, lack of coordination, chemical irritation, or burns to skin, eyes, nose and mouth.
- Death could result when exposure is to a particularly toxic chemical or the person exposed is vulnerable.
- Non-drug users can experience these effects during or immediately after ‘cooking.’
Less Severe Exposures - Can improve when chemicals are gone and with access to fresh air
- Symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness,and fatigue or lethargy.
- Symptoms have occurred in people exposed to active labs.
- Symptoms have occurred in people such as law enforcement personnel and other first responders who have entered a drug lab before the site has been cleaned or ventilated.
- Serious health effects including liver and kidney damage, neurological problems, and increased risk of cancer can occur with long-term exposures to VOCs.