Anthrax-deactivating foam also cleans up meth labs
A foam that deactivates chemical and biological weapons has been found to be effective in cleaning up former methamphetamine labs, too.
Mon, Feb 20, 2012 at 01:39 PM
FOAM: Sandia National Laboratories researcher Mark Tucker demonstrates the decontamination foam he developed. (Photo: Courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories)
Is it one foam to rule them all? More than 10 years ago, Sandia National Laboratories first developed a foam to deactivate chemical and biological weapons. Cleanup crews applied the substance to U.S. federal office buildings and mailrooms after anthrax attacks in 2001. Now the same stuff has been found effective in cleaning up former methamphetamine labs, too.
There are tens of thousands of home methamphetamine labs in the U.S., according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's National Clandestine Laboratory Register. Some of these houses are sold again to new owners after they've been cleaned up. Before cleanup, the houses are contaminated with chemicals that can put the next residents at risk for migranes, respiratory problems, skin irritation and, in the long term, possibly cancer, according to a report from Scienceline. The de-toxing foam, developed in Sandia's Albuquerque, N.M., location, can reduce methamphetamine contamination to non-detectable levels, according to the Sandia Labs website.
The foam itself is nontoxic and just needs to be wiped off after it's applied, according to Sandia Labs. After an hour, the foam-meth mixture is safe enough to go down a kitchen drain. One Albuquerque news station showed a reporter drawing a circle in the foam with her finger.
It's been used in houses, hospitals and schools, Sandia said. It's been sprayed preventatively before presidential debates and political conventions.
A private company, EFT Holdings, now sells improved versions of the foam for anthrax and meth lab cleanup. The meth contamination version is called Crystal Clean.