WHY IS A FAST TEST IMPORTANT? Methamphetamine can be produced almost anywhere, from a wide variety of household chemicals and other materials, and the production can create extremely toxic environments. When law enforcement and medical personnel respond to emergencies at a location they need to know if they are at risk of exposure to dangerous fumes and residues.
WHY IS METHAMPHETAMINE RESIDUE DANGEROUS? Because so many different components can be used to create methamphetamines, the amount of danger to someone exposed varies widely. The danger depends on what specific chemicals were used, the amount of time a person is exposed, and also the health of the person being exposed. Dangerous items, such as drain cleaner, paint thinner, and road flares may be used in the concoction of methamphetamines. Exposure to residues of the drug can cause symptoms similar to what a user would experience, and inhaling the raw components can cause everything from respiratory irritation, headaches, and nausea, to kidney damage and birth defects. Some components, like benzene, are known to cause cancer.
WHY IS IT DANGEROUS TO USE METHAMPHETAMINES? Methamphetamines are extremely addictive. They make users feel more alert and focused and lessen or eliminate fatigue and appetite. In addition to acting as a stimulant, methamphetamine alters the system that controls how people experience pleasure, including the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Repeated use can lead to a condition called anhedonia, in which these systems break down, causing the user to become increasingly depressed without the drug, because no experience can match the feeling of pleasure brought on by the drug. Because of this, users become dependent on it, foregoing other activities to focus on obtaining and taking the drug. In addition, interrupting regular use causes prolonged depression as well as physical withdrawal syndromes in a vast majority of cases. Use of methamphetamines also tends to lead to users to neglect their hygiene, often causing severe damage to their teeth.
The American Industrial Hygiene Association contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.