Effects of meth on a community

Clandestine Lab at Laucala Beach in 2004. Picture: Supplied

WHETHER in a small town or a huge city, methamphetamine creates danger and disaster for the entire community.

Wherever secret labs exist, drug dealers, innocent children and neighbours, and law enforcement personnel suffer.

Explosions and fire are the most common hazards because labs often have a mixture of volatile and flammable chemicals in the air.

Something as simple as knocking over a container, lighting a cigarette, or turning on electrical equipment can ignite an explosion in this environment.

When a lab explodes, neighbours’ property and lives are put in danger.

Contact with the chemicals is extremely dangerous. Just breathing their fumes can cause illness or permanent injury.

Spouses and children of meth cooks have been known to be made sick by living in a house with a meth lab.

Law enforcement officers have suffered collapsed lungs, pneumonia, and chemical bronchitis from exposure to the fumes.

Exposure to the chemicals used in meth production damages the central nervous system through the skin or respiration.

The chemicals damage the kidneys, and burn or irritate the skin, eyes, and nose.

In addition, some of these labs have been booby-trapped to prevent detection. Innocent people who happen to enter and law enforcement personnel who seize the labs have been injured and killed. Each pound of meth produced leaves behind five to six pounds of toxic waste.

The criminals who produce meth typically aren’t concerned with preserving the environment.

Left over chemicals tend to go down household drains, into storm drains, or directly on to the ground. All of those pathways take the chemical waste into local water supplies or groundwater.

The toxic by-products of meth can persist in the soil and groundwater for years.

Other costs methamphetamine spreads to the community at large — users and non-users alike — include automobile accidents, increased criminal activity, domestic violence, emergency room and other medical costs, increased spread of infectious disease, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, and lost worker productivity.

Local communities, governments and ultimately the taxpayers usually pay these costs.

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