Chemically derived drugs, such as methamphetamines, ecstacy and GHB, have made their way to the streets of Winnipeg. These drugs are often produced in clandestine drug labs found in residential homes or mobile vehicles.Clandestine drug labs cause three main types of harm:
Mixing chemicals in clandestine drug labs creates substantial risk of explosions, fires, chemical burns and toxic fume inhalation. Errors and accidents in the process of manufacturing methamphetamines generate a wide range of toxic substances. Phosphine gas, for example, has caused severe lung damage and death.
Poor ventilation increases the risks both of explosions and of toxic fume inhalation. However, good ventilation spreads toxic fumes outside, where they put other people at risk.
Perhaps as dangerous as the chemicals are the criminals involved in methamphetamine manufacturing. Both the supplier and buyer may be “meth” users whose behavior can be unpredictable and dangerous. Weapons and other forms of violence are often directly associated with high-stakes criminal commerce.
Each pound of manufactured methamphetamine produces five to six pounds of hazardous waste. Clandestine drug operators commonly dump this waste into the ground, sewers or streams and rivers.
The cooking process produces a stench described as a mix between battery acid and rotten eggs. Smaller labs can conceal the stench by using a hose to run the fumes from glass cooking flasks through kitty litter before it’s piped outside.
Clandestine labs cause substantial damage to residential homes. They also pose a serious threat to public safety. Chemicals and fumes used in clandestine labs permeate the walls, carpets, plaster and wood, as well as the surrounding soil. These toxins are known to cause cancer, short-term and permanent brain damage and immune and respiratory system problems.
Children are particularly vulnerable to the health effects associated with drug labs. Children are generally more at risk than adults to environmental hazards because:
They tend to have immature organ systems, faster metabolic rates and weaker immune systems
Illegal drug labs pose the greatest danger to children living where drugs are made. Children in labs are exposed to the highest levels of chemicals. They are at risk from explosion, fire and chemical burns and they are often neglected and abused by drug-using parents. Other hazards to children in these chaotic environments may include exposure to weapons, finished drugs and unsanitary conditions.
Evidence of an Illegal Drug Lab
The most important tools to combat the potential epidemic of methamphetamines are education and public awareness. The following examples may indicate production or sale of drugs.
Clandestine laboratories have been found in single and multiple family dwellings, motel rooms, campgrounds, mini-storage buildings and motor vehicles, especially rented trucks.
If you think you have discovered an illegal drug lab or the site of an abandoned lab, immediately contact police at 204-986-6222. Do not enter the area of the suspected lab. Anyone who inadvertently enters a lab should back out immediately without disturbing the cooking process, chemicals or equipment.
If you would like a Police Officer to provide a Power Point Presentation on this topic you can forward your request via one of three ways:
Note: The spelling of Marihuana is from the Criminal Code of Canada
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