Adverse Health Effects Associated with Living in a Former Methamphetamine Drug Laboratory

June 23, 2018

By: Jackie Wright, PhD1; Michaela E. Kenneally2; John W. Edwards, PhD1; G. Stewart Walker, PhD3

Summary    (Click Here To Open Full CDC Report PDF)

What is already known about this topic?

The clandestine manufacture of methamphetamine is known to result in various levels of contamination of all surfaces in homes. Information is available on drug exposures and health effects for drug users as well as persons exposed during manufacture.

What is added by this report?

A family of five, including three children aged 7–11 years, lived in a home in rural Victoria, Australia, that was previously a clandestine methamphetamine drug laboratory with documented environmental contamination. The family members developed adverse health effects, and there was evidence of systemic absorption of methamphetamine from the environment, based on hair samples collected after they had vacated the premises. Health effects were most pronounced in the youngest child, who also had the highest methamphetamine levels in hair, possibly related to a combination of repeated contact with surfaces during play activities and less frequent hand washing.

What are the implications for public health practice?

If properties formerly used for the clandestine manufacture of methamphetamine are not properly cleaned the public might be unknowingly exposed to drug residues. Appropriate identification and management of these properties, including measures by authorities to prevent the sale of unremediated homes, are important to prevent exposures and adverse health effects.