Methamphetamine, Ephedrine, Pseudoephedrine, Amphetamine and Other Drug Residue Testing

During the manufacturing process of methamphetamines and various other illicit drugs, chemicals become airborne and may deposit onto surfaces, such as benchtops, tiles, walls, ceilings, carpets, pipes, ventilation ducts and flooring.

Methamphetamine is often synthesised in makeshift laboratories, which are referred to as clandestine ('clan') drug laboratories. A meth lab can be set up using common household equipment and chemicals. There are currently hundreds of labs being found in residential homes, hotel rooms inside kitchen cabinets and even in the boots of cars, with relatively inexpensive precursor substances. The most common precursor, pseudoephedrine, is a key ingredient in over-the-counter cold and flu medications or other standard substances in Australia.

According to the Australian Crime Commission’s Illicit Drug Data Report, more than 740 clandestine laboratories were detected during 2013-14. The number of clandestine laboratories detected nationally has increased by 95.2 per cent over the last decade. The 744 laboratories identified during this reporting period represented the third highest number on record with Queensland accounting for the greatest proportion.

Toxicity from these chemicals can remain long after the lab has been shut down and cleared by law enforcement agencies. This may result in a wide range of health problems for people living in the area. Owners of homes, rental properties and businesses or potential property buyers may also be at risk of liability.

In response to such a growing concern, Envirolab is now testing for methamphetamine, MDMA, ephedrine pseudoephedrine and various other illicit drugs.

When testing through Envirolab, our team will provide you with an Envirolab Drug Wipe Sampling Kit.

 

Each kit consists of the following items necessary for collecting a sample from a surface that may be suspected to be contaminated by any illicit drug residue:

1 x single-use wipe

1 x Cardboard Template for sampling that measures 100 cm² (10 cm x 10 cm square)

1 x 50mL centrifuge tube (sample container after sampling)

1 x pair of single use Nitrile gloves

The collection of contaminants from surfaces is referred to as ‘wipe sampling’ and is applied as a technique to identify contamination deposition on surfaces, including those found in homes, rental properties and businesses. Wipe sampling methods may be used to detect the presence of various compounds, such as metals, pesticides and drugs.

This procedure for collecting wipe samples of drug residue from surfaces is based on the methodology described in the NIOSH method 9111 “Methamphetamine on Wipes by LC/MS” of the NIOSH Manual of Analytical methods.

The method provided below for collecting a wipe sample is based on the  NIOSH or OSHA methodology. 

When getting started with the sample collection, firstly make sure that you have taken the following two steps: 

1.

Secure the Cardboard Template to the area to be wiped – to secure, place tape along outer edge of the template.

2. 

Make sure to wear the gloves included in the kit and remove the wipe from the pouch before you commence sampling as per the applicable technique below.

 

Wipe Sampling Techniques

(a) Concentric Squares Wiping Technique
(suitable for smooth and non-porous surfaces)

Without unfolding the wipe and using firm pressure, wipe the area in the template.
Start at one of the inside corners of the template and wipe in concentric squares, progressing toward the centre. 
End with a scooping motion. 
Without allowing the wipe to touch any other surface, reverse the last fold, so the exposed side of the wipe is facing inwards. 
Using a fresh surface of the wipe, wipe the same area in the same manner as before. 
Roll or fold the wipe again and insert into the shipping container (50mL centrifuge tube). 
Cap the tube securely and keep refrigerated (<6°C).

 

(b) Side-to-side Wiping Technique 
(suitable for rough, porous, and/or soiled surface)

Without unfolding the wipe and using firm pressure, wipe the area within the template with at least five overlapping side-to-side horizontal passes beginning at the top and progressing to the bottom in a “Z” pattern.
Without allowing the wipe to touch any other surface, reverse the last fold so that the exposed side of the wipe is facing inwards. Using a fresh surface of the wipe, wipe the area again with at least five overlapping top-to-bottom vertical passes beginning at the left side and progressing to the right in an “N” pattern.
Roll or fold the wipe again and insert into the shipping container (50mL centrifuge tube).
Cap the tube securely and keep refrigerated (<6°C).

 

3. While methamphetamine and several related amines are stable on the recommended wipe media for at least 7 days at room temperature, refrigeration is recommended as soon as possible.
   
4. Label each sample clearly with a unique sample identification number or name. Ship the samples to Envirolab in Sydney (or your local Envirolab/MPL office).

Do you have an existing or prospective purchase of a business premises, rental property or a vehicle that you suspect may be contaminated by meth residue or various other illicit drugs and chemicals?

 

Depending on the option that best meets your circumstances, contact: 
Luke Witham or Giovanni Agosti at sydney@envirolab.com.au or call 1300 424 344.

Alternatively you can also download a copy of our Guide on Collecting Wipe Samples of Drugs from surfaces.

 

Other Useful Resources
To collect a sample for Envirolab testing, you can order the Envirolab Drug Wipe Sampling Kit.