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Clandestine chemistry is chemistry carried out in secret, and particularly in illegal drug laboratories. Larger labs are usually run by gangs or organized crime intending to produce for distribution on the black market. Smaller labs can be run by individual chemists working clandestinely in order to synthesize smaller amounts of controlled substances or simply out of a hobbyist interest in chemistry, often because of the difficulty ascertaining the purity of other, illegally synthesized drugs obtained on the black market. The term clandestine lab is generally used in any situation involving the production of illicit compounds, regardless of whether the facilities being used qualify as a true laboratory.


Why the concern about cleaning up clandestine labs?

Properties used to produce meth will usually have containers of chemicals such as solvents, ether, paint thinners, phosphorus, acids and bases, or anhydrous ammonia. Other lab equipment, cooking or storage containers, or heat sources may also be present. Typically, the contractor removes the bulk of any lab-related debris such as chemicals and containers after a lab is discovered by law enforcement. However, small amounts of chemicals may have contaminated surfaces, drains, sinks, ventilation systems and absorbent materials (couches, carpets, beds etc.). The meth lab contaminants may pose serious health threats to persons exposed to them.

People can be exposed by breathing the air that may contain suspended contaminant particles as dust, by touching surfaces that are contaminated, by eating or drinking from glasses or dishes that have layers of contaminated grime, or by eating or smoking after their hands are in contact with contaminated areas. Furnace air filters and drains may also have contamination in them. Children should never be allowed into these areas until cleaning is finished.