Road-cleaning volunteers: beware meth lab waste

With the weather improving and groups of volunteers heading out to clean our roadways, there is a new and dangerous hazard they should be aware of. Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and your sheriff want you to be safe.

Volunteers who clean up roadside litter are being urged to watch for potentially toxic debris discarded from methamphetamine (meth) labs.

Meth is a highly addictive stimulant that can be made using common household chemicals and equipment and common cold remedies containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine (such as Sudafed and Actifed to just name a couple).

Clean-up crews who come across materials used to make the drug can be burned or their lungs damaged from inhaling fumes. If you encounter any of the signs of a meth lab, leave the area immediately and call 911 or MDOT. Do not touch anything if you suspect it may be meth lab waste. The waste can be extremely dangerous and may even be booby-trapped. Entire labs can be found in tool boxes, coolers, or other storage containers. Mobile meth labs are becoming more common. Labs are sometimes run out of car trunks and RVs and discarded on our roadways.

Clues indicating a dumpsite include:

• empty bottles attached to a rubber hose

• the smell of ammonia

• coffee filters stained red or containing a white powder residue

• garbage bags with cat litter (can contain deadly gases and are sometimes called “death bags”)

• corroded propane tanks

• empty or used alcohol products

• numerous empty cold medicine and diet pill bottles or blister packs

• unused matches without striker plates

Don’t try to remove unknown or suspected toxic substances. Notify MDOT or the police of the location of these items immediately.

Meth lab waste is very serious. Your safety comes first! Contact Undersheriff Jon Hess at (616) 632-6236.


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The Squire has been Rockford’s free weekly newspaper since 1871. Our loyal readership includes over fifteen thousand homes in the Rockford area, including the affluent Lakes area of Lake Bella Vista, Bostwick Lake and Silver Lake; Belmont, Blythefield, as well as Algoma, Courtland, Cannon and Plainfield Townships. The Squire is distributed through the U.S. Post Office every Thursday. We also deliver to in-town businesses and homes with paper carriers and news stands in our grocery stores and over thirty local shops.