NPR’s Morning Edition is running a series of stories on meth labs this week. Yesterday they talked about curtailing meth production in Oregon by restricting the sales of cough medicine. This morning was about the issue of dismantling a meth lab once you have closed it down, this specifically in Tennessee.
Some interesting safety issues to contend with. The man interviewed mentioned that “phosphine gas will kill you” – or at least that was what the transcript said he said. I heard it as “phosgene”, which will also kill you. I’m not up on the production of meth enough to tell you which is the right one. Either way, there are some dangerous chemicals involved here and I would be willing to bet that a full SOP with rigorous safety protocols (including labeling and waste disposal) have not been implemented by the crooks.
I’ve moved into labs where I find something that I didn’t know what it was. Disposal is a dangerous business. You may have only a vague notion of what the chemical is that you are disposing of. The story had someone talking about using pH paper to help with that identification and that will certainly point out which of the clear liquids is strong base or strong acid. Not everything is so clear cut.
One of the pieces of advice we used to get when ordering was order as much as you need even if the next size bottle is much cheaper per gram – the eventual disposal of that bottle more than overwhelms the saving you just made. This is not easy work and good luck to those that do it.