The Basics of Methamphetamine Testing

Feb 25, 2020

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