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Arizona Center on Aging

Epidemiology & Biostatistics

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Illegal Meth- amphetamine Laboratories

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Work Practices Recommendation

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Decontamination is a means of removing and/or neutralizing contaminants on personnel and equipment when exiting the hot zone.  Since contamination is not always seen, these procedures are utilized to protect the employee to ensure that contamination is kept at the site.  Pursuant to both federal and state law, a decontamination plan needs to be developed and put into use prior to the beginning of an investigation at a clandestine laboratory scene.  All employees working in the hot zone will be decontaminated.  This may be a full decontamination sequence, or a modified version, depending on the resources available at the site and the amount of contamination encountered.  Decontamination should take place as soon as personnel are exiting the lab scene.  All employees working in the decontamination zone, need to review the decontamination procedures before work at the clan lab site begins so that employees can quickly and safely exit the hot zone. 


Decontamination items include:


       Fresh water


       Soap and mild detergent;

       Scrub brushes;

       Wading pools;

       Visqueen plastic sheeting;

       Water sprayers for rinsing;

       OSHA approved eye wash

       Paper towels.


An emergency vehicle containing a minimum of the above equipment will be present at all clan lab sites where an employee has to touch any item that contains more than one ounce of liquid, or powder chemicals that could spill onto the employee and cause damage to the skin. A fire truck with a water supply for showers and eye wash will comply with the above.


When responding to a clan lab where the emergency response vehicle is not present, a local source of water may have to be used.  Since many clandestine drug labs may be found in remote locations, it will be the responsibility of the Site Safety Officer to ensure that the water is safe for use in decontamination. 

Decontamination sequences, whether full or modified, need to be performed in a manner that does not allow the exposed skin of an employee to possibly come in contact with contaminated clothing.  Decontamination sequences may include:


       Washing and scrubbing outer garments to remove noticeable contamination or removal and discard of disposable garments, concentrating on

       gloves and boots;

       Rinsing outer garments with clean water;

       Removal of SCBA (Level B);

       Washing and rinsing of the employee's air purifying respirator and self contained breathing apparatus;

       Wipe down air monitoring instrumentation;

       Removal of all duct tape;

       Removal of outer boots and gloves;

       Rolling down and removing suit, without touching outside of garment;

       Removal of APR or face-piece from SCBA;

       Removal of inner gloves without touching outside of gloves;

       Washing hands and face.


Personnel need to be familiar with the decontamination and removal of PPE to avoid inadvertent exposure.  Anyone working in the decontamination area will decontaminate themselves once all other personnel who have been working in the hot zone are through.  All used decontamination solutions shall be disposed of by the hazardous waste hauler.  A decontamination line must be established to allow employees leaving the exclusion zone to move from a greater to a lesser-contaminated area. Employees shall remove the most contaminated items first and the less contaminated items last.



To prevent contamination to a receiving law enforcement officer or personnel, all suspects and persons found at a scene should be decontaminated to the fullest extent possible.  Contaminated clothing should be removed, and the suspect placed in a Tyvek suit.  All facilities and transporting officers shall be notified of any prisoner who may be contaminated.