FACTs performs a variety of assessments for controlled substances. FACTs has performed assessments for controlled substances in cars, vans, Resort Day Camps, rental properties, and foreclosures. We have performed property assessments for ecstasy (MDMA), LSD, cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana.
Our assessments run the entire spectrum of detail, ranging from a cursory evaluations, to complete assessments of properties, sewerage systems, ventilation systems, and the development of remediation plans complete with follow-up clearance sampling.
Our clients include governmental agencies, insurance providers, home buyers, and landlords.
Our services include qualitative and quantitative analysis depending on the needed data quality assessments.
In Colorado, (our primary service area for Clandestine Drugs Labs), there are three four levels of property evaluation:
Basic Methamphetamine Survey (BMS)
For our work in Colorado, most of our clients are Realtors and Home Buyers who want a BMS to determine if the property is a methlab or contaminated with methamphetamine. Typically to perform this assessment, FACTs performs a visual inspection of the property and collects quantitative samples from strategic locations.
For a typical 1,500 square foot Ranch Style residence on city sewer, and city water, FACTs will collect 10 to 15 samples from throughout the residence. Analysis is by gas chromatography – mass spectroscopy. The fees for such an assessment are typically between $250 and $600 depending on site conditions.
In addition to sampling, there are many visual clues that can indicate a property was used as a drug lab.
Most BMS evaluations remain under confidentiality, and never enter the public domain. Some cursory evaluations, however, become part of public record.
A general overview of how to recognize a drug lab is given here.
A Preliminary Assessment is required whenever information from a cognizant authority indicates evidence of potential contamination. Only specific personas are permitted to perform a Preliminary Assessment. At the moment, there are no trained consultants in Colorado performing Preliminary Assessments.
Ironically, the fees associated with performing a Preliminary Assessment are inversely related to the degree of contamination. That is, the more heavily contaminated the property, the less expensive the assessment. For properties that are apparently pristine, the fees of the Preliminary Assessment are slightly higher. This is due to the hypothesis testing that must be performed, and how, at FACTs, where appropriate, we develop the Preliminary Assessment with the Decision Statement in mind - a process that can potentially save the client thousands of dollars.
Occasionally, conditions are such that the Preliminary Assessment directly results in a Clearance; where that occurs, the Preliminary Assessment is also the Clearance, such as in this example.
For a heavily contaminated 1,500 square foot Ranch Style residence on city water and city sewer, the fees associated with a Preliminary Assessment are typically about $2,000.
Properties where waste products may have been discarded into an external septic system or surrounding soils require additional investigative activities (which in Colorado are required by regulation), and assessments at these types of properties typically cost about $2,500. An example of a Preliminary Assessment at such a property can be found here.
In Colorado, most of the Preliminary Assessments and Clearance reports that have been performed are invalid for a variety of reasons, and leave the property owner with unseen liability. FACTs performs objective Critical Reviews of assessment work, providing a comprehensive review of the validity of the Preliminary Assessment or the Clearance report. Often the work is performed by a State "authorized" individual with no training and the State of Colorado provides no enforcement actions, rather the CDPHE allows "favored" consultants to produce falsified documents, while it may scrutinize other consultants whom it does not favor.
Examples of critical reviews can be found here.
FACTs also performs other types of Critical Reviews such as debunking the September 2012 "study" by National Jewish regarding hazardous moulds in marijuana grow operations (see here)
In Colorado, a contaminated property cannot be reoccupied or entered by unauthorized personnel until a qualified Industrial Hygienist has issued a "Certification of Compliance." The certification is a written affirmation that the property meets mandatory regulatory criteria. Most of the Certificatoins issued in Colorado are invalid, and often the occupants of an ex-methlab are unwittingly exposed to contamination levels in excess of State clearance levels, and/or occupy a property that has not been properly cleared. Clearance reports must enter public record, and there are several examples of such Clearance certifications on our site archive.
Assessing contamination in a car used to smuggle methamphetamine
Assessing a structure can also include assessing the septic system.
Trap door in a bedroom closet leading to an underground vault containing a clandestine drug operation.
A full Preliminary Assessment requires the assessment of surrounding soils for potential contamination due to illegal dumping of waste materials.
Many surfaces are porous and contamination levels are determined by microvacuuming the surface to remove material onto a cassette for analysis.
Illegal drug labs can include “legal” marijuana grow operations. Although the possession and cultivation may be “legal” in some states, the actual operations almost always involve illegal activities and extensive property damage.
Residual hazards in clanlabs include booby traps, chemical exposures and other types of hazards. Here, our technician is collecting a sample next to a blood tainted syringe hidden in a laundry room.
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