A decontamination foam, previously used to clean up federal office buildings and mailrooms during anthrax attacks more than a decade ago, is now being used to decontaminate illegal methamphetamine (meth) labs Science Daily reports.
The foam renders all types of chemical and biological agents harmless, according to officials at Sandia’s Chemical & Biological Systems, the makers of the decontamination foam.
Sandia’s decontamination foam is comprised of a collection of mild, nontoxic and noncorrosive chemicals found in common household products, such as hair conditioner and toothpaste. It contains both surfactants, which lift agents off a surface, and mild oxidizers, which break down the agent’s molecules into nontoxic pieces that can be washed down a household drain like detergent or dish soap.
According to the Department of Justice, the chemicals used to cook meth and its byproducts produce toxic fumes, vapors and residues that have lasting effects to local neighborhoods and the environment. Anyone exposed to these byproducts, especially children, could suffer serious health problems and prolonged exposure to meth byproducts may cause cancer, damage the brain, the immune system and may result in birth defects.
Illegal meth labs are a growing problem in America and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Clandestine Meth Lab registry lists thousands of locations across the country where law enforcement agencies have found chemicals or paraphernalia linked to either clandestine drug laboratories or meth lab dumpsites.
Incidents related to meth production, including seizures of labs, dumpsites or chemical and glassware, increased to 11,239 in 2010, after falling to 6,095 in 2007, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.