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The Basics of Methamphetamine Testing

A methamphetamine crystal.

Methamphetamine use may be perceived as a rural issue for many Chicagoans. However,  Indoor Science has recently seen an uptick in calls about methamphetamine testing. In this blog, we will discuss the basics of Methamphetamine, the methodology for testing, and remediation solutions.

Basics of Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant also known as meth, ice, speed, crank, and various other colloquial terms. The substance is typically manufactured in clandestine laboratory locations which can be at a property, in a mobile lab such as a vehicle, or in an outdoor setting. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, methamphetamine is made by using the over-the-counter drugs ephedrine or pseudoephedrine in conjunction with other chemicals. The process of making meth, also known as “cooking”, can create various environmental hazards such as VOCs, acid/base spills, and toxic metals. 

Methamphetamine Testing Methodology

Methamphetamine testing is conducted via wipe sampling utilizing the NIOSH NMAM 9111 method. This method uses an alcohol wipe to collect a sample from 100-1000 square centimeters, using a disposable template. The wipe can be taken from a variety of surfaces such as doors, window sills, furniture, or any other items suspected of being in close proximity to methamphetamine use or manufacture. In a recent project, we found the highest levels inside the HVAC return ductwork.

Regulatory Guidelines

While methamphetamine usage is prevalent in many areas of the country, there is no established federal limit for how much methamphetamine is acceptable in a property. The Environmental Protection Agency references an average based on states that have implemented regulatory guidelines. The EPA references a guideline of 0.1 micrograms per 100 square centimeters. The state of California has instituted a health-based standard of 1.5 micrograms per 100 square centimeters. One AIHA Laboratory Accreditation Programs, LLC accredited lab noted that levels in the hundreds range may be indicative of methamphetamine manufacturing. 

Remediation Guidelines

Similarly to how there is no established federal guideline for the presence of methamphetamine in a property, there is also no standard for remediation once its presence has been detected. The EPA has provided voluntary guidelines for cleanup of methamphetamine labs however, they do not reference recreational use in a property. The voluntary guidelines recommend HEPA vacuuming surfaces, ventilating the property to allow VOCs to off-gas, and painting surfaces to encapsulate the methamphetamine residue. For more information please visit the EPA site for these guidelines.


In conclusion, while the methamphetamine epidemic impacts communities across the country, national regulatory guidelines are scarce. Manufacturing or usage of methamphetamine in a property or mobile laboratory can cause environmental contamination due to the hazardous compounds utilized during the cooking process. Many vehicles used as laboratories are considered to be unsafe for use after being contaminated. If you are interested in testing for methamphetamine or other drugs, please reach out to us

Ian Cull

Ian Cull is a nationally recognized expert in the field of indoor air quality. He is the Chief Science Officer of Indoor Science, a company he started in 2004. He speaks around the world on air quality topics and is a training provider of the Indoor Air Quality Association. Mr. Cull is a Licensed Professional Engineer (PE) and Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH). His degree is in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign. Mr. Cull has developed 50 air quality related courses for the IAQA University and is the author of the book, “Fundamentals of Mold Remediation”. In his words… “Besides being passionate about indoor air quality, I enjoy cycling, music, the Chicago Bulls, and having fun with my three kids.”

2 thoughts on “The Basics of Methamphetamine Testing


    Great report!

    We met at IAQA. Located in Chicago as well, I noticed you have a background in hazardous lead. If you have any contacts via Chicago Schools, housing, etc., by all means let me know. We can certainly assist when it comes to treating lead and in many cases offer presentations demonstrating the efficacy of reducing the bioaccessibility when it comes to availability.

    Thanks again.

    Hello Paul,

    I will keep your company in mind as I work on projects with lead or clandestine labs.