Methamphetamine Resources

Methamphetamine, commonly called meth, is a powerful and highly addictive chemical substance that directly affects the body's central nervous system. It usually comes in several forms:

  • A crystalline white powder that is odorless, bitter-tasting and dissolves easily in water or alcohol. 
  • Crystal methamphetamine that looks like glass fragments or shiny, bluish-white or other colored rocks. 

People can take methamphetamine by smoking, swallowing, snorting, or injecting the drug. 

Exposure and Clean Up Regulations

Methamphetamine contamination is possible in any place where a person uses meth, including public places, and is created when a person smokes meth. Contamination can be spread by touching contaminated surfaces. The residue is extremely sticky and can be difficult to clean. 

Colorado statutes and regulations require that properties contaminated by meth use be cleaned up in accordance with standards established by the state Board of Health. These regulations were intended for residential properties and not commercial or public buildings.

Testing and Remediation

The state guidelines require remediation for any space at a very low threshold of detection in order to maintain safety and prevent health risks associated with exposure: 

  • Screening-level assessments: Required at properties where there is suspected or known methamphetamine contamination. These assessments are often performed voluntarily during property transactions. If any samples collected during a screening assessment are higher than 0.2 micrograms/100cm2, a more thorough preliminary assessment must be performed. 
  • Preliminary assessments: Required at properties where there is suspected or known methamphetamine contamination. If any samples from the preliminary assessment show levels above 0.5 micrograms/100cm2, the property must be remediated. 

Screening-level and preliminary assessments for methamphetamine contamination must be performed by a state-certified consultant (industrial hygienist). Remediating (cleaning) methamphetamine-affected properties must also be performed by a state certified contractor that is independent from the consultant. 

Clearance testing is conducted when remediation is complete, and Arapahoe County Public Health reviews the results to ensure that the property was remediated in accordance with state standards. 

Learn more about testing in public and commercial buildings and get answers to frequently asked questions.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has guidelines based on an extensive review of the best available science and practices for cleanup. 

Secondhand Exposure to Meth Contaminants

Health risks to the general public are considered low from secondary meth exposure in public spaces. Health risks are generally higher in houses, apartments, motel rooms, and vehicles where meth has been manufactured or used over long periods of time.

Exposure to the contaminants can cause:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Skin irritation 
  • Chemical burns

Infants and young children are most vulnerable. If you’ve been to a public place that has tested positive for meth, your chances of exposure or symptoms are very low. You should contact your primary care physician if you have concerns.

Dangers of Meth Production

Meth ingredients contain over the counter drugs, like pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, commonly found in cold medicine. Meth is often manufactured or “cooked” in unsophisticated laboratories by persons with no chemistry background. Cooking meth is not only illegal, but also dangerous and toxic.  

The toxic chemicals used in the meth manufacturing process take a toll on the environment. Every pound of meth made can generate up to five pounds of toxic waste. The manufacturing process also generates toxic fumes which can severely harm anyone exposed to them.

Cleanup Resources