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Neutralizing Toxic Meth Labs

February 19, 2013, 4:55 PM by Shawn Neisteadt

Neutralizing Toxic Meth Labs

Recent meth lab discoveries have had many similarities including pop bottles, tubing and toxic leftovers.  

"We deal will all kinds of different ones.  It is a dangerous stuff to work with just because of the chemicals that are there," Captain Kendall Ward of Sioux Falls Fire Rescue said.

Ward says when police officers respond to investigate a lab, firefighters also respond.  However, their responsibilities are different.  First, Fire Rescue works to eliminate the threat of fire.  Second, they analyze the chemicals to determine what needs to be done to keep the toxic remnant from spreading.  They even work to clean-up those doing the investigation.

"But when they're going in, they could potentially distribute it out of if we walk through the area.  You can walk through it and it will stick on your boots and you'll carry that all over, so we try to wash it off before we go back," Ward said.

For Sioux Falls Fire Rescue, decontaminating an area can be as simple as spraying it down with water.  It can also be a very complex process, whatever it takes to neutralize the chemicals that were used.

Because today's meth labs are evolving, fire rescue members are trained in what to look out for.  That's why they say if you suspect a lab, steer clear.

"If they touch it, there's potential for contamination.  There's a potential for fire; you just don't want to mess with the stuff.  If you see it, call 911," Ward said.

Ward says that today's labs are so mobile, people should contact authorities even if you smell something suspicious coming from a home, garage or even a car.

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