Meth Lab Cleanup Rules Written Into Law

The threat of deadly toxic residue from methamphetamine (meth) labs in homes and hotel rooms pushed the president to sign a law today mandating thorough cleanup after they are shut down by authorities.

"These toxic sites need to be cleaned properly to ensure the safety of future residents," said the bill's author, House Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon, D-Tenn. 

The chemicals used in making this the drug are highly toxic and can infuse the walls, carpet and furniture of any house, apartment or hotel room in which the drug was made, according to public health officials.

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ABC News reported earlier this year that a minor chemical spill in a hotel could be deadly not only for the meth "cook" but also for other guests staying in the hotel.

"Phosphine gas is just one of the many highly toxic gases that can escape during the manufacture of meth. The gases can be deadly," said Dr. Raymond Fowler of the CDC in Dallas. 

The Drug Enforcement Administration reported seizing roughly 7,000 methamphetamine labs last year.

The new bill requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop model, voluntary, health-based clean-up guidelines for use by states and localities with the goal of making sure the sites of former meth labs are safe and livable.

The legislation also authorizes the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to initiate a research program to develop meth detection equipment for field use. Such equipment will help local law enforcement and first-responders detect active meth labs faster and assist in measuring contamination levels. The legislation also requires a study by the National Academy of Sciences on the long-term health impacts on children rescued from meth labs and on first-responders.

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