Meth Lab

A meth lab is a clandestine drug lab that is a collection of materials and ingredients used to make crystal meth and is made mostly from common household ingredients. These ingredients are mixed and cooked together to make meth and the harmful chemical mixtures can remain on household surfaces for months or years later. There may be health effects in people exposed to chemicals to make meth before, during and after the meth-making process. Therefore, each meth lab is a potential hazardous waste site, requiring evaluation, and possibly cleanup, by hazardous waste professionals.

Meth labs have been discovered in hotel and motel rooms, restaurants, barns, private homes and apartments, storage facilities, fields, vacant buildings and (moving or stationary) vehicles. A minimum of 5 to 7 pounds of chemical waste are produced for each pound of meth manufactured.

Health effects caused by exposure to meth lab chemicals depend on:

  • the lab process and chemicals used
  • the amount of chemical and length of exposure
  • the age and health of the person exposed.


Chemicals may enter the body by being breathed, eaten, or absorbed through the skin. An acute exposure is one that occurs over a relatively short period of time.

Acute exposure to meth lab chemicals can cause:

  • shortness of breath
  • cough
  • chest pain
  • dizziness
  • lack of coordination
  • chemical irritation
  • burns to skin, eyes, nose and mouth


Death could result when exposure is to a particularly toxic chemical or the person exposed is particularly vulnerable. Acute exposures can occur in non-drug users during or immediately after making meth.

Less severe exposures can result in symptoms such as:

  • headache
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • fatigue or lethargy

Signs of a Meth Lab

The warning signs of a meth lab are:

  • Strong odor of solvents.
  • Residences with windows blacked out.
  • Iodine or chemical stained bathroom or kitchen fixtures.
  • Travel trailer or RV parked on the property.
  • Increased activity, especially at night.
  • Excessive trash.

General questions, concerns about health effects of meth: Washington State Department of Health, 1-888-586-9427

meth lab supplies


Meth Lab Supplies

The most common chemicals used to start the meth making process are over-the-counter cold and asthma medications. Typical brands include Sudafed, Revive, and Mini-thins, which contain ephedrine or pseudoephedrine as decongestants or stimulants.

  • Plastic Tubing
  • Mason Jars
  • Propane tanks
  • Camp stove fuel
  • Empty pill bottles
  • Ephedrine or pseudo ephedrine tablets
  • Empty cans of toluene, alcohol, or paint thinner
  • Ammonia
  • Starter fluid
  • Glass Containers
  • Coffee filters with red stains
  • Funnels
  • Rock salt, iodine
  • Lithium batteries
  • Hydrogen peroxide

photo of meth ingredients

Meth Lab Related Abuse and Neglect

Children of meth labs are at risk for other injuries as well. Chemicals used in a meth lab may explode when mixed improperly. For example, authorities responded to a fire and explosion of a meth lab. Inside was A 11-month-old baby that was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. The infant passed away after several months. The infants parents, who were fugitives, were captured later while attempting to buy chemicals used in making meth.

A meth lab was found in the bedroom of a 1-year-old child. According to officers, the child was in a walker at the time of the raid. The parents were charged with child desertion and many more charges. The officers took the child into custody.

Narcotics officers found a meth lab while conducting a probation search on a home. Inside, they also found a 4-year-old girl playing outside by meth lab waste. Officers found that her mother had been making meth in a travel trailer on the property. The 4-year-old drew pictures and talked about a smoking pipe made of glass and of domestic violence she had witnessed in the home.

The mother was arrested for manufacturing meth and child endangerment as well as a few other charges. The child was taken to the hospital and tested positive for meth and other drugs. The child was placed in a foster home.