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Colorado Meth-lab Regulations

Caoimhín P. Connell
Forensic Industrial Hygienist

Regulatory History and Overview

Forensic Applications Consulting Technologies, Inc. is a private consulting Industrial Hygiene firm providing environmental testing and assessments for a variety of contaminants, including methamphetamine. Our personnel were instrumental in the development and promulgation of Colorado’s methamphetamine regulations, as well as revisions to Colorado statutes. Our Industrial Hygienist was the primary author who wrote the foundational language for the original regulations.

The following is an overview of Colorado's State Board of Health methlab clean-up regulations titled Regulations Pertaining to the Cleanup of Methamphetamine Laboratories, (6 CCR 1014-3). A copy of the regulations as they pertained to properties between March 30, 2005 and December 15, 2015 can be obtained by clicking here. A detailed discussion of the regulations that remain in effect for properties that were assessed between March 30, 2005 and December 15, 2015, is described in the section title “Original Regulations,” lower on this page.

This web discussion was prepared by Caoimhín P. Connell, Forensic, the Industrial Hygienist for Forensic Applications, Inc. (a copy of Mr. Connell’s Illegal Drug Laboratory statement of qualifications can be found by clicking (here .) Mr. Connell was a member of two of the four Stakeholder Teams that wrote the original regulations, and was the primary author of the seminal language of the actual assessment protocols. Mr. Connell was also a Stakeholder in the writing of the new amendments, wherein he strongly objected to passage of the new regulations.

At one time, Colorado's clean-up regulations were considered to be some of the most comprehensive and scientifically valid in the nation. The toxicological exposure model used to support the cleanup thresholds can be found by clicking here.

Problems created by fraudulent consultants performing illegal drug lab assessments, lead to serious problems in the Real Estate market. In violation of State statutes, a member of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (Ms. Coleen Brisnehan) simultaneously served on the Board of Directors of a commercial organization, while at the same time, was a regulator for the State of Colorado. Ms. Brisnehan developed a long history of statutory violations, falsifications, and regulatory violations and actively engaged in covering up illegal property assessments performed by members of her private organization. Ms. Brisnehan was not just covering up fraudulent activities by unauthorized consultants, (see for example, here), but Ms. Brisnehan was actually personally going into properties and participating in the performance of unlawful property assessments (see for example here).

As a result of the confusion thus created by the unchecked corruption in the CDPHE, Senator Lois Tochtrop promulgated Senate Bill SB 13-219 which was intended to establish a licensing program for individuals authorized to perform property assessments, and to establish disciplinary fines for those who violated the regulations. SB13- 219 similarly required the CDPHE to establish criteria for screening evaluations during Real Estate transactions.

Remarkably, the task of revising the regulations was given to the very person who helped create the problem in the first place, the office of Ms. Brisnehan. During the rule-making process, the CDPHE specifically stated that the regulations needed to be revised to make the regulations more understandable to the untrained individuals had been performing the fraudulent assessments. The net result is a set of mandatory regulations that are ambiguous, burdensome, and significantly harm Colorado Citizens by requiring assessment protocols that are:

- meaningless
- protocols that are not based in science
- protocols that are significantly more costly to perform
- protocols that have an higher probability of false positives
- protocols that have an higher probability of false negatives

In the end, the rule making process was so sloppy, and so unprofessional and arbitrary, that at the end of the rule making process, Colorado ended up with almost incomprehensible, arbitrary based regulations. The regulations actually force the Industrial Hygienist to perform low quality work (at an higher cost to the client), and force the Industrial Hygienist to collect samples from inappropriate locations increasing the probability of false negatives (this is, not finding methamphetamine in an otherwise contaminated structures).

The rule making process was so sloppy that at the end of over a year, the rule making committee still had not definitively identified a definition of "methamphetamine," and the State of Colorado, Department of Public Health and the Environment was not even capable of correctly spelling the word “methamphetamine” on their official documents (for example, see an official application by clicking here).

Ms. Brisnehan was placed in charge of enforcement of the new regulations, wherein she immediately began to intentionally ignore the regulatory violations of those who belonged to her commercial group (and for which she is still identified as serving on the Board of Directors), while at the same time, in violation of State criminal statutes, extracting personal vindictiveness against any consultant who did not support her commercial group.

The net result is that grossly incompetent assessments, in serious violations of State regulations, are being performed by untrained consultants, and the violations are being covered up by Ms. Brisnehan and her office.

FACTs has been asked to review various Public Domain reports from consultants. As a result of those reviews, FACTs is identifying approximately 56 regulatory violations per site assessment, rendering those assessments invalid under the State regulations, and thereby increasing the liability of the occupants, sellers, and buyers of those properties. Provided the consultant is a “friend” of Ms. Brisnehan, the regulatory violations are knowingly condoned (in violation of Colorado’s Criminal Statutes).

For example, in the table below, FACTs presents a synopsis of 25 reports, and identified a minimum of 4,325 regulatory violations in just those 25 reports, thus far. Each of the “Work Items” below, links to a copy of the review.

Address Work Item Number of Violations
1301 Speer Blvd. Denver, Colorado Review of Public Domain Report prepared by Tom Koch (1/8/2015) 28
3324 S Field Street Lakewood, Colorado Review of Public Domain Report prepared by Tom Koch (1/21/2015) 29
4383 Tennyson Street, Denver, Colorado 80212 Review of Public Domain Report prepared by Andre Gonzales (1/25/2015) 22
769 Cleveland Cir, Lafayette, CO Review of Public Domain Report prepared by Joe Boatman (2/10/2015) 39
1138 32nd Street, Unit 201, Denver, Colorado 80205 Review of Public Domain Report prepared by Robert Woellner (2/24/2015) 229
413 South Buffalo Street, Yuma, Colorado 80759 Review of Public Domain Report prepared by Robert Woellner (2/26/2015) 118
410 Garfield Avenue, Carbondale, CO 81623 Review of Public Domain Report prepared by Robert Woellner (3/2/2015) 26
771 Cleveland Circle Lafayette, CO 80026 Review of Public Domain Report prepared by Robert Woellner (3/17/2015) 41
1635 S. Fundy Street in Aurora, CO 80017 Review of Public Domain Report prepared by Tony Konowal (3/19/15) 137
48400 Routt County Road 56C, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487 Review of Public Domain Report prepared by Robert Woellner (3/20/2015) 54
1349 Hazeline Lake Drive Colorado Springs, Colorado 80921 Review of Public Domain Report prepared by Robert Rodosevich (3/23/2015) 30
1006 Gilfin Circle Colorado Springs, Colorado 80915 Review of Public Domain Report prepared by Robert Rodosevich (3/23/2015) 9
3400 Glade Road, Loveland, 80538 Review of Public Domain Report prepared by Alex Johnsen(3/27/2015) 684
836 Prospect Lake Drive, Colorado Springs, CO Review of Public Domain Report prepared by Meth Lab Cleanup (4/1/2015) 39
8347 S Reed Street, Unit 2, Littleton CO 80128 Review of Public Domain Report prepared by Robert Woellner (5/27/2015) 121
11767 Grant Street, Northglenn, Colorado 80233 Review of Public Domain Report prepared by Robert Woellner (6/4/2015) 113
731 Excelsior Place, Lafayette, CO 80026 Review of Public Domain Report prepared by Joe Boatman (3/25/2015) 344
767 West Cleveland Circle, Lafayette, Colorado 80026 Review of Public Domain Report prepared by Andre Gonzalez, Foothills Environmental, Inc. (4/18/2015) 110
502C West South Boulder Road, Louisville, CO 80027 (PA) Review of Public Domain Report prepared by Joe Boatman (4/28/2015) 344
3282 E 103rd Dr Unit 1601, Thornton, CO 80229 Review of Public Domain Report prepared by Judith E Sawitsky, CMC Weecycle Environmental Consulting, Inc. (4/7/15) 266
1815 Regal Ct., Unit B, Louisville, CO 80027 Review of Public Domain Screening Report prepared by Joe Boatman, Quality Environmental Services (6/28/15) 90
1815 Regal Ct., Unit B, Louisville, CO 80027 Review of Public Domain Preliminary Assessment Report prepared by Joe Boatman, Quality Environmental Services (6/28/15) 234
2330 Wedgewood Ave., Building 7, Longmont, CO 80503 Review of Public Domain Screening Assessment Report prepared by Joe Boatman, Quality Environmental Services (3/15/15) 345
3830, 3832 and 3834 South Knox Court, Denver, CO Review of Public Domain Clearance report prepared by Joe Gifford, (A.G. Wassenaar, Inc.) 1/22/15 863
Total Number of Violations4,325
A copy of the new amendments to those regulations as they are now effective (as of December 15, 2014) may be obtained by clicking here.

According to the new amendments, only those individuals who are 1) Legitimate Industrial Hygienists, and 2) who had been performing property assessments pursuant to existing regulations may continue to perform such work after December 15, 2014 and until June 15, 2015.

However, the new disciplinary provisions notwithstanding, those fraudulent consultants who were performing unlawful assessments under the old regulations, are still performing unlawful assessments under the new regulations with apparent impunity – To date, the CDPHE has not taken any actions as required of them by regulation and statutes to address this situation.

Significant Changes
Loss of Scientific Validity in Screening Evaluations
In the past, in Colorado, regulatory property assessments were scientifically-based assessments founded on State-of-the-art hypothesis testing and the development of legitimate Data Quality Objectives (DQOs). In the past, the DQOs were obtained by “authoritative judgmental bias,” sampling, that guaranteed that sampling error was eliminated, and the probability of a false negative was significantly reduced, and at the same time, the fees of the service were minimal since fewer samples needed to be collected.

In the new regulations, all state-of-the-art scientific DQOs and hypothesis testing has been stripped from the regulations. DQOs have now been replaced with “cookie cutter” instructions that require the consultant to replace knowledgeable sampling theories with the requirement to merely collecting more samples from more areas, (thus incurring higher costs for the consumer), but in a manner that increases sampling error.

On site Personnel
In the past, during a Real Estate screening evaluation, the Industrial Hygienist could deploy a trained Technician to the site. From the site, the Technician could electronically transmit information and photographs back to the Industrial Hygienist who could then make decisions on where and how to sample.

Under the new regulations, the Industrial Hygienist must personally inspect the subject property. As a result, the labor fees of such an inspection have now significantly increased, since firms are now prohibited from deploying trained technicians to perform the initial work.

Multiplicity of Samples
In the past, a legitimate expert could adequately perform screening sampling with no greater than one wipe per 300 square feet of floor space collected pursuant to hypothesis testing, and “authoritative judgmental bias,” sampling. Now, in the new regulations, the consultant must abandon scientifically valid sampling theories and pursuant to Section §, a minimum of two 4-aliquot composite samples must be collected, HOWEVER, at least one aliquot MUST be collected from each “room” in the structure and at least one composite sample must include an aliquot from the cold air return of a heating system, (if it is a forced air system) AND all exhaust fans (including, but not limited to, kitchen, bathrooms, attic vent fans, or whole house exhaust fans) MUST also be sampled (§, AND at least one aliquot must be taken from each room of all outbuildings AND the sample suite must contain at least one field blank. These new provisions significantly increase the fees associated with the analysis and can easily triple or even quadruple the analytical fees, with no actual benefit to the consumer in return. Not only was the State incapable of supporting this change, the State refused to permit discussion that challenged the validity of their position.

Definition of a Room
Naturally, if the State is going to require one sample from each “room,” in a structure, the State must be capable of defining what constitutes a “room.” And that has occurred wherein the State now has a very complex, tortuous definition of a room (See Section 2 of Part 1 of the regulations). The practical upshot is that whereas in the past, a 1500 square foot residence could be adequately assessed with a single, multi-aliquot sample, now, the same structure may contain as many as 16 areas that meet the definition of a “room,” each requiring an aliquot – but not more than four aliquots may be added to a sample (for reasons the State was unable to demonstrate), and therefore, up to four analyses are required for the same 1500 square foot property, plus one field blank. As such, instead of paying $46 in analytical fees, the consumer must now spend $230 just in analytical fees for the same property, with no increased benefit in return.

Field Identifications
In the past, the trained field Technician would perform a brief walk-through and very quickly identify pertinent aspects of the structure. Now, pursuant to §3.7.2, the Industrial Hygienist must perform an inventory and document all structural features (perform and document an inventory of all types of “rooms”). This activity significantly increases the fees to the consumer.

The Industrial Hygienist is now required to generate “computer-generated” drawings that depict the entire structure (§ including sample locations, rooms, attics, crawlspaces and the entire building layout for the site.

No evidence was provided by the State that such inventories or drawings provide the slightest benefit to anyone, and yet, the new regulatory requirements significantly increases the fees to the consumer.

Reporting Requirements
In the past, depending on the results of the assessment, the information may or may not have entered into the public domain. Now, according to the regulations, regardless of the findings, the report thus generated must be submitted to The State and must enter the Public Record.

False Positives
In the past, Colorado was a “no de minimis” limit state, meaning any concentration of methamphetamine identified in a screening sample would trigger the regulations; even for a property that was otherwise compliant. Since the methodologies used by legitimate Industrial Hygienists was so sensitive, the Industrial Hygienist would exercise good sampling technique and establish a reportable limit that would ensure that contaminated properties were identified, while at the same time ensuring that properties that contained insignificant concentrations of trace amounts of methamphetamine would not unnecessarily trigger the regulations.

Now, under the new regulations, the Industrial Hygienist is prohibited from establishing scientifically valid DQOs, and instead is forced (§3.6) to report all methamphetamine at concentrations equal to or greater than 0.2 µg/100cm2 even for properties that are otherwise compliant with State regulations. That is, now, if an Industrial Hygienist finds insignificant concentrations of methamphetamine, but concentrations at or greater than 0.2 µg/100cm2, during a real estate screening transaction, the seller is forced by regulation to either demolish the property, or perform a full and complete Preliminary Assessment (§3.6.1) and/or perform a full “clearance” sampling protocol (§3.6.2). The State never offered any evidence whatever of a single example of a property in Colorado, over the last ten years wherein screening sampling from a legitimate Industrial Hygienist was below 0.5 µg/100 cm2, but upon completion of a Preliminary Assessment, the property turned out to be a noncompliant property.

As such, property owners now run the risk of having their property “discovered” as an illegal drug laboratory and are then forced to spend a large sum of money to prove the property is actually compliant, even though a properly trained Industrial Hygienist could easily predict that the property was actually compliant in the first place. The State never provided ANY data to support their position to the contrary, and disallowed any challenge to their position. (Indeed, during one regulatory meeting, when the only Industrial Hygienist in the meeting attempted to describe the sampling issues at hand, Ms. Brisnehan repeatedly screamed at the Industrial Hygienist and refused to permit the Industrial Hygienist to explain the science behind appropriate sampling; audio tapes of the meeting are available.)

Significant Increase in Costs
Therefore, in the past, a 1500 square foot home with an attached garage could be adequately assessed by a Trained Technician who, under the direction of a legitimate Industrial Hygienist, could collect a single multiple aliquot composite sample. The fees for the service would be about $450. For the same property now, under the new regulations, the consumer can expect to pay approximately $1,200 for the same property, in order to meet the mandated criteria.

Regulatory History
In Colorado, the regulations have been created by a progression of legislative bills. Independently, additional bills were passed that impacted the State statutes, but not necessarily the State regulations.

The original impetus behind the Colorado regulations was essentially a liability immunity law that would protect property owners from future law suits in the event that a clandestine methamphetamine laboratory was discovered on their property.

The original Act (available by clicking here) was HB 04-1182. This act, which was signed by Governor Owens on April 21, 2004, laid the foundation for the regulations and required the Colorado Board of Health to establish methlab clean-up standards to even the playing field, and standardize how contaminated properties (and therefore, toxicological risk) could be controlled. The regulations required assessments by an Industrial Hygienist, a profession and term defined in Colorado Revised Statute, CRS §24-30-1402. The act provided immunity to property owners from future civil lawsuits provided the property owner hired legitimate, authorized Industrial Hygienists and provided that Industrial Hygienist followed the regulations promulgated by the Board of Health. If the consultant was not an authorized Industrial Hygienist, the work was fatally flawed, and the property owner would not receive the liability immunity.

Following the promulgation of the regulations, many unauthorized and untrained “testing companies”, including untrained “Certified Industrial Hygienists,” unauthorized Asbestos Contractors and (in violation of regulations) even “methlab” cleanup companies began performing unlawful “assessments.” Invalid assessments were also being performed by individuals with make-believe and falsified credentials; including titles like “Environmental Specialist,” and “Senior Scientist,” or “Certified Microbial Consultant,” and so forth.

Some untrained consultants are even falsely claiming to be “Certified Clandestine Druglab Specialists”, or falsely claiming to be certified through the State of Colorado. None of the “certifications” being used were valid and these unauthorized consultants created a serious litigation and liability problem.

Although counties, and municipalities had authority to enforce the regulations and statutes, the problem was magnified by two individuals within the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) who were knowingly providing false information regarding the regulations, and even participating in unlawful assessments assisting unauthorized consultants in the collection of unlawful samples.

Eventually the problem became so bad, and corruption within the CDPHE so uncontrolled, in March of 2013, Sen. Tochtrop introduced Senate Bill SB13-219. That bill, as codified now in CRS 25-18.5, was designed to reign in untrained and unauthorized personnel performing unlawful consultations, place a judicial review on the CDPHE decisions, and give citizens an avenue to report the fraudulent work.

Senate Bill SB13-219 passed, and signed into law by the Governor on May 28, 2013. The Bill significantly amended Colorado Revised Statutes §28-18.5-101 et seq. The intent was to require enforcement of the State regulations. However, the control over the new regulations was placed in the hands of the every individuals who created the problem in the first place. The same individuals in CDPHE who were engaged in assisting in unlawful activities, were tasked with re-writing the regulations. These individuals actively sought the input from the consultants who were responsible for the fraudulent assessments that created the problem. The practical result was that the new regulations adopted non-scientific assessment protocols to make it easier for untrained and otherwise incompetent consultants to perform the work.

Additional legislative bills were passed by the Colorado legislature and those bills and statutes include the Real Estate Disclosure and Discovery Bill, SB 06-002; (a discussion of the Real Estate Disclosure and Discovery Bill, SB 06-002, can be found by clicking here) and a discussion of the Colorado Methlab Omnibus Bill can be found by clicking here. A copy of the Omnibus bill can be obtained by clicking here.

Original Regulations
Contrary to the claims by untrained consultants, the Colorado regulations do not require the industrial hygienist to be a Certified Industrial Hygienist, and the Colorado Board of Health acknowledged that ABIH Certification was not a de facto stamp of competency in industrial hygiene or methlabs (or anything else for that matter). Furthermore, just because a consultant is an bona fide Industrial Hygienist, or Certified Industrial Hygiene does not mean they are authorized to perform regulatory work. The news videos below, featuring FACTs Industrial Hygienist) centers on the invalid work by one such Certified Industrial Hygienist.

FACTs has been used by regulatory agencies to provide testimony used to refute and reject methlab assessments performed by unauthorized Certified Industrial Hygienists and other consultants who are not authorized to perform such assessments. In the following video our Industrial Hygienist was the technical expert used by ABC News to develop the investigative report.

Codification History

House Bill 04-1182 became codified in the Colorado revised statutes Title 25, Article 18.5 Parts 101-103, (CRS §25-18.5-101)

25-18.5-101. Definitions
25-18.5-102. Illegal drug laboratories - rules. (Required the Board of Health to promulgate standards for cleanup.)
25-18.5-103. Discovery of illegal drug laboratory - property owner - cleanup - liability

An ancillary bill, Senate Bill 05-217 (SB05-217), provided some clarification for some deficiencies in HB 04-1182. Governor Owens objected to some of the language, but not the overall intention of SB05-217, and so although he did not sign the Bill, he did not veto the Bill and so the Bill came to be Law in mid June, 2005 which modified Title 25, Article 18.5 and added two new sections: Section 104 (which restricted access to illegal drug laboratories) and Section 105 which defined “Governing Body” and reinforces home-rule original jurisdiction authority wherein the property is located.

In 2013, Senate Bill SB13-219, heavily modified Title 25, Article 18.5 Parts 101-105 and added:
§25-18.5-106. Powers and duties of department
§25-18.5-107. Enforcement
§25-18.5-108. Illegal drug laboratory fund
§25-18.5-109. Judicial review

Current Elements

25-18.5-101. Definitions
The most notable definitions are

(4) "Consultant" means a certified industrial hygienist or industrial hygienist who is not an employee, agent, representative, partner, joint venture participant, or shareholder of the contractor or of a parent or subsidiary company of the contractor, and who has been certified under section 25-18.5-106.

Importantly, the certification process is not yet in place. As an interim, according to Section 3.1 of the new regulations, only those individuals who are legitimate Industrial Hygienists, AND only those who were performing assessments pursuant to the regulations prior to December 15, 2014, are now authorized to continue to perform such assessments. As such, those firms who were unlawfully performing the work under the old regulations, are not authorized to perform the work until June 15, 2015, when they must demonstrate to the State they are competent to perform the work.

(8) "Illegal drug laboratory" means the areas where controlled substances, as defined by section 18-18-102, C.R.S., have been manufactured, processed, cooked, disposed of, used, or stored and all proximate areas that are likely to be contaminated as a result of the manufacturing, processing, cooking, disposal, use, or storage.

25-18.5-102.Illegal Drug Lab Rules
Under this section, the State legislature mandated the Board to create various regulations. Although not intended by the original bill and not anticipated by the Bill’s author, the CDPHE used to the opportunity to heavily modify the (otherwise excellent) existing regulations in a way that will make compliance more expensive, and less effective.

25-18.5-103. Discovery of illegal drug laboratory
This section states that upon notification from law enforcement or when an illegal drug laboratory is otherwise discovered in a vehicle or on a property, as evidenced by chemicals, equipment, or supplies associated with an illegal drug laboratory and the property owner has received notice, the owner shall meet the clean-up standards (the regulations).

If the owner does not want to clean the property, them may demolish the property. If the owner elects to demolish the property, the governing body may require the owner to fence off the property or otherwise make it inaccessible for occupancy or intrusion.

If an individual owns personal property within a structure or vehicle contaminated by illegal drug laboratory activity, they have ten days after the date of discovery to remove the property according to board rules or clean the property according to board rules. If the personal property owner fails to remove the personal property within ten days, the owner of the structure or vehicle may dispose of the personal property during the clean-up process without liability to the owner of the personal property for the disposition. (A person who removes personal property or debris from a drug laboratory shall secure the property and debris to prevent theft or exposing another person to any toxic or hazardous chemicals until the property and debris is appropriately disposed of or cleaned according to board rules.)

Once a property owner has received certificates of compliance from a contractor and a consultant in accordance with section 25-18.5-102 (1) (e), or has demolished the property, or has met the clean-up standards and documentation requirements of this section as it existed before August 7, 2013, the property owner must furnish copies of the certificates of compliance to the governing body; and is then immune from a suit brought by a current or future owner, renter, occupant, or neighbor of the property for health-based civil actions that allege injury or loss arising from the illegal drug laboratory.

25-18.5-104. Entry into illegal drug laboratories
Once a structure or vehicle has been discovered or if a governing body or law enforcement agency issues a notice of probable contamination, the owner of the structure or vehicle shall not permit any person to have access to the structure or vehicle unless that person is trained or certified to handle contaminated property under board rules or federal law; or has received certificates of compliance under section 25-18.5-102 (1) (e).

25-18.5-105. Drug laboratories - governing body - authority
This section gives local governments the authority to enforce the regulations and collect reasonable fees for that enforcement. Local governments including county and town governments always had this authority anyway, and these provision have not changed.

25-18.5-106. Powers and duties of department
This required the department to implement, coordinate, and oversee the rules promulgated by the board including a certification process for individuals (and firms) involved in the assessment, decontamination, or sampling of illegal drug laboratories and the approval of persons to train consultants and contractors in the assessment, decontamination, or sampling of illegal drug laboratories.

25-18.5-107. Enforcement
This section provided authority to discipline any person that violates any rule promulgated by the board and subject them to an administrative penalty not to exceed fifteen thousand dollars per day per violation until the violation is corrected. These rules are anticipated to be released by November of 2014.

25-18.5-108. Illegal drug laboratory fund
This established an “illegal drug laboratory fund” in the state treasury.

25-18.5-109. Judicial review
To prevent further abuses by the department, this section stipulated that the department's decisions are subject to judicial review in accordance with CRS 24-4-106.

The Regulations

So, as required by the Act, the Colorado Board of Health promulgated a set of rules titled (appropriately enough): Regulations Pertaining to the Cleanup of Methamphetamine Laboratories and these became codified as Board of Health 6 CCR 1014-3. The regulations were approved January 19, 2005 and became effective March 30th, 2005.

These ARE the Methlab Regulations. The regulations contain nine Sections and five Appendices.
Section 1 - Purpose
Section 2 - Applicability
Section 3 - Definitions
Section 4 - Preliminary Assessment
Section 5 - Decontamination Procedures
Section 6 - Sampling and Analysis
Section 7 - Cleanup Levels
Section 8 - Documentation
Section 9 - References

Appendix A - Sampling Methods and Procedures
Attachment to Appendix A - Sampling Theory
Appendix B – Analytical Methods
Appendix C – Ventilation System Decontamination
Appendix D – Individual Sewerage Disposal Systems (ISDSs)

Section 1 – Purpose
To establish cleanup standards and procedures that a property owner is required to meet in order to obtain immunity from civil liabilities.

Section 2 – Applicability
The requirements of this section apply when 1) an owner of property has received notification from a peace officer that chemicals, equipment, or supplies indicative of a clan-lab are located at the property, or 2) when a drug laboratory is otherwise discovered, and 3) the owner of the property where the clan-lab is located has received notice.

Section 3 – Definitions
This section contains vital terms that have been carefully constructed to ensure clarity.

Section 4 – Preliminary Assessment
A comprehensive preliminary assessment be conducted by the IH in accordance with Section 6.7 of the regulations prior to decontamination. Furthermore, the decontamination plan MUST be based on the Industrial Hygienist's Preliminary Assessment. Access to the property is limited to those with appropriate training and personal protective equipment. Information collected during the preliminary assessment must include an array of topics, including (but not limited to ): physical address, legal description, number and type of structures present, descriptions of adjacent and/or surrounding properties, description of available law enforcement reports, identification of structural features that may indicate separate functional spaces, identification of manufacturing methods, identification of chemicals used, identification and documentation of areas of a) contamination b) chemical storage areas, c) waste disposal areas, d) cooking areas; signs of contamination such as staining, etching, fire damage, or outdoor areas of dead vegetation, potential disposal into the sanitary sewer or ISDS, ventilation systems with adjacent units or common areas... and an whole laundry list of other items that include sewerage septic tanks, soils, ventilation systems, and more.

Section 5 – Decontamination procedures
This section provides the decon procedures that MUST be followed. The procedures require a significant degree of expertise and, as such, specialized training. At the moment, OSHA is considering such work to be under the scope and applicability of 29 CFR 1910.120, HazWOper. Therefore, remediation contractors must be 40 Hour Hazardous Waste Site trained.

Section 6.0 - Sampling and Analytical Procedures
This section contains the crux of the verification process. It requires a very high degree of technical expertise and thorough knowledge of sampling theory. The immunity of the property owner hinges on the competency of the Industrial Hygienist performing this work. Not all Industrial hygienists, or Certified Industrial Hygienists have the training and experience necessary to properly perform this work. Furthermore, due to the unusual hazards that may be encountered during the assessment, (we have encountered booby traps, explosives, and even armed criminals, during our assessments), not all consulting Industrial Hygienists feel comfortable offering the preliminary services.

Our Industrial Hygienist, with 27 years experience, is Colorado’s only practicing Industrial Hygienist certified by both HIDTA, (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area; Office of National Drug Control Policy, Clandestine Drug Lab Safety Program) and Colorado Department of Law, P.O.S.T. He has received extensive specialized meth-lab training such as the identification of “anti personnel devices” (booby-traps commonly found at meth-labs) through both the Iowa National Guard, Midwest Counterdrug Training Center and the Multijurisdictional Counter Drug Task Force, St. Petersburg College. Mr. Connell has processed clandestine laboratories from both the criminal and civil perspectives.

Section 7.0 - Cleanup Levels
The following cleanup levels have been established to determine if a property has been adequately decontaminated. All discovered and duly noticed clan-labs must meet the cleanup level for methamphetamine. Additional cleanup levels that may be applied to a property must be based on information gained during the preliminary assessment.

7.1. Surface wipe samples and vacuum samples for methamphetamine shall not exceed a concentration of 0.5 µg /100 cm2. (With special caveats for composite samples)

7.2. If there is evidence of iodine contamination on materials or surfaces that will not be removed, surface wipe samples for iodine shall not exceed a concentration of 22 µg/100 cm2.

7.3. If the preliminary assessment indicates the phenyl-2-propanone (P2P) method of methamphetamine manufacturing was used, surface wipe samples for lead shall not exceed a concentration of 40 µg /ft2, and vapor samples for mercury shall not exceed a concentration of 1.0 µg /m3.

7.4. The investigation and cleanup of outdoor contamination, including soil, surface water and groundwater, shall be conducted in accordance with the Colorado Hazardous Waste Regulations, the Colorado Solid Waste Regulations, and Water Quality Control Commission Regulations 31 and 41.

Section 8.0 - Reporting
A final report describing various aspects of the property must be prepared by the IH to document the decontamination process and demonstrate that the property has been decontaminated to the cleanup levels listed in Section 7.0. The final report must include a comprehensive compendium of documents and checks.


The appendices contain the details, the flesh about the bones, as it were. In the appendices, the Industrial Hygienist and the remediation contractor can find the "nuts and bolts" of how the work is to be performed, and the rationale of why.

Since the promulgation of the standards, many myths have emerged surrounding the new regulations.

Myth 1
The new regulations have no teeth.

The facts:
The regulation as codified in CRS 25-18.5-103 REQUIRES a property owner to meet the clean-up standard or demolish the property. Many counties are placing a definitive time-frame on how quickly this process must take place.

The regulation has teeth, to be sure, and gives the authority to enforce the regulations directly to the county, city, town or even law enforcement agency with claimed jurisdiction over that venue.

Myth 2
Tenant / property owner has the right to remove their personal items from the property after the bust or notification.

The facts:
Pursuant to CRS 25-18.5-103 (3), NO PERSONNEL PROPERTY WHATSOEVER, including cars, clothing, personal items, or any other thing "subject to ownership" may be removed from the property until it complies with the regulations. Meaning that either it must be properly destroyed, or it has been cleared for removal by an industrial hygienist, or it is being removed, by a duly trained and authorized party (usually a contractor) to a secure location where it will then be properly destroyed or cleared for removal by an industrial hygienist, or decontaminated in a fashion that has been based on an Industrial Hygienist’s preliminary assessment.

Unless these conditions are met, NO PERSONNEL PROPERTY WHATSOEVER may be removed by any person.

Myth 3
Following the bust or notification, the tenant or property owner may reenter the house.

The facts:
Pursuant to CRS 25-18.5-104, if a structure OR vehicle has been determined to be contaminated or if a Governing Body or Law Enforcement Agency issues a notice of "probable contamination," no person may enter the property or vehicle unless the person is trained or certified to handle contaminated property pursuant to board rules or federal law. Otherwise, NO entry may take place by the owner, or the tenants. The "Governing Body" may secure the structure themselves by placing their own locks on the entrance to control access.

Myth 4
The tenant has the unchallenged right to their personal property, after the bust, and the landlord is responsible for that property.

The facts:
Pursuant to CRS 25-18.5-103(1)(b) the owner of any personal property within a structure OR vehicle contaminated by illegal drug laboratory activity has ten days after the date of discovery of the laboratory or contamination to make appropriate arrangements to assess the property by an industrial hygienist or secure for assessment, or destruction. If, within those ten days, the owner of the personal property fails to comply with the regulations, the owner of the structure may take possession of the items or vehicles and may dispose of that personal property in any manner consistent with the regulations (including cleaning the items and selling them).

Myth 5
Tenants may clean their own items and then remove them.

The facts:
Cleaning of personal belongings is not permitted until those items have been assessed by an industrial hygienist (See Myth 7).

Following the assessment, only those parties who have been properly trained may perform the decontamination.

Myth 6
Unless methamphetamine was actually being manufactured, the property isn't a "meth lab."

The facts:
Virtually ANY methamphetamine related activities, including smoking meth or otherwise using methamphetamines within a residence is sufficient to categorize the property as an "illegal drug laboratory" pursuant to the regulations. Pursuant to CRS 25-18.5-101(2.7), Definitions, an illegal drug laboratory is defined as "...the areas where controlled substances, as defined by section 18-18-102, C.R.S., have been manufactured, processed, cooked, disposed of, used, or stored and all proximate areas that are likely to be contaminated as a result of such manufacturing, processing, cooking, disposal, use, or storing.

Smoking methamphetamine in a property therefore meets one of the criteria of the definition of a drug laboratory. This broad scope is necessary since studies have shown that smoking meth in a residence can result in as much contamination or even more contamination than production and synthesis.

Myth 7
Only a Certified Industrial Hygienist can perform the assessment and verification sampling.

The facts:
The regulations do not require the services of a certified industrial hygienist. Any industrial hygienist meeting the requirements of Colorado Revised Statute CRS 24-30-1402 and the requirements of 6 CCR 1014-3 is permitted to perform the work. However, not every industrial hygienist or certified industrial hygienist necessarily meets the training requirements of 6 CCR 1014-3; which explicitly require an industrial hygienist to be proficient in, and have experience with, meth-labs. Therefore, just because a consultant is an actual industrial hygienist does not mean they may perform the role of the consultant.

Any organization who represents itself as being authorized to perform the work, but who do not actually meet the necessary requirements, not only face the very real threat of future litigation losses being subrogated to them (when their clients find out they have not gained the liability immunity as described by HB1182), but those consultants could also face criminal charges of fraud pursuant to Title 18 of the Colorado Revised Statutes Article 5, Part 301 Section 1(e), punishable by a minimum of 3 months in prison (maximum 12 months in prison).

Myth 8
Cars are exempt.

The facts:
According to the new regulations, all vehicles including private passenger cars, vans, trucks trailers, RVs, and campers are covered by the regulations.

If a police officer or a Sheriff’s Deputy stops a car during a "routine traffic stop," and identifies methamphetamine in the vehicle, that vehicle would be considered an illegal drug lab as defined by the new regulations.

Myth 9
The State Board of Health enforces the regulations.

The facts:
The statutes explicitly placed the onus of responsibility of enforcement on the local level. According to SB 05-217, if the city council or board of county commissioners where the property in question is located has NOT designated who the governing body will be, then the governing body automatically becomes the local health department, building department, and law enforcement agency. And these are the agencies that can enact their own fines, fees, and charges in order to finance the enforcement efforts.

Myth 10
The regulations require testing to determine if a meth-lab is present.

The facts:
Nowhere in the regulation is the collection of samples or testing required to determine if a property is a meth-lab. Consultants who do not understand this, are, by that very fact, not authorized to do the work, since they lack sufficient understanding of the regulation to comply with it.

Myth 11
If a consultant does go into a property and finds meth contamination, but that contamination is less than 0.5 µg/100cm2, then the property is OK, and not covered by the regulations.

The facts:
False! If a consultant arbitrarily chooses non-mandatory sampling at the beginning of the assessment process, and those samples result in any contamination, even below the State’s value of 0.5 µg/100cm2, then the property MUST be declared a meth-lab. The initial declaration is NOT necessarily based on testing – the initial declaration is found within the language of the mandatory Attachment to Appendix A of the regulation (Hypothesis Testing). Therefore, any consultant who has declared a property to not be a meth-lab based on such initial testing, faces not only civil liability, but may also face criminal liability by accepting work they were not qualified to perform. There is no de minimis concentration of methamphetamine at the beginning of the assessment process below which, a property could be declared “not a meth lab” or “not of regulatory concern.”

The single exception to this, would be if the consultant, while attempting to test the initial assessment hypothesis failed to so do, and by virtue of that work simultaneously performed the work as required by the regulation for a post decontamination assessment, and similarly failed to support the post decontamination hypothesis – only then could the preliminary assessment results be used to derive a “decision statement” and declare the property compliant with State regulation.

Liability immunity is gained exclusively by following the process described in the State regulation and concluding that process with a “Decision Statement” as found in Appendix A of the Regulation. If any deviation to that process occurs, the property cannot be declared compliant and the consultant is not at liberty to arbitrarily declare that the property is not a concern, or that there was no meth-lab present.

Myth 12
Colorado’s “clearance level” is 0.5 µg of methamphetamine per 100cm2

The facts:
This is a myth, usually promoted by unauthorized industrial hygienists and unauthorized consultants. There are many situations wherein the residual meth concentrations are inconsequential and may be far below the numerical value of 0.5 µg/100cm2, but the lab has not met the statutory requirements for clearance. The “clearance level” in Colorado is referred to as a “decision level” for a very good reason, and a "decision statement" can only be made under well defined parameters. We anticipate many future law suits arising out of the fact that some meth-labs are being declared "clean," by ill-informed consultants based on sampling, when in fact, those labs are not clean, have not met State regulations, and the property owner has not achieved liability immunity.

Since it is not the role of the governing body to approve or prohibit any particular data package, the unsuspecting property owner may presume that because the data package has been accepted by the governing body, it is acceptable and the property owner has obtained liability immunity. The property owner may not find out that their data package is not acceptable until they are facing a toxic tort law suit from a subsequent property occupant.

Myth 13
A methlab clean-up company can test my home and clean the contamination if they find it.

The facts:
Several remediation companies, especially commercial clean-up companies are selling “comprehensive” meth tests claiming to test a home for meth, and then offering to clean the property. Although this is prohibited by State Statute and by State Regulation, many home owners have been duped into the service.

According to State regulations, following the discovery of evidence of methamphetamine contamination or any other indicator of an illegal drug lab, no cleaning may occur until a Preliminary Assessment has been issued by a legitimate Industrial Hygienist specifically trained in clandestine drug lab issues.

If cleaning occurs, the property owner will not receive the statutory liability shield, and will still be required to perform the Preliminary Assessment, and may end up having to pay for two separate clean-up actions.

Any testing done by remediation companies is unofficial and cannot be used for regulatory purposes or to comply with any Colorado State statutes or regulations.

Myth 14
Decontamination Products can be simply sprayed on the surfaces, to achieve decontamination.

The facts:
Several manufacturers have been marketing “wonder” products they claim will magically decontaminate methlabs. However, some of the manufactures such as “Green Decon” and “Decon ProGreen” make claims that are not only unsupportable, but are physically and chemically impossible. For example, Decon ProGreen has claimed “Tests have shown that the process obliterates the chemical components used to manufacture Meth, leaving a safe environment for human habitation.” However, many of the materials used to manufacture methamphetamine are toxic regardless of the molecular structure and cannot be “obliterated” and must be removed. Miracle products are seldom what they seem, and in general, good cleaning cannot be substituted with cleaning products.

In some states, cleaning products that contain hydrogen peroxide or other kinds of oxidizers are prohibited since these products can alter the surrogate compounds used to determine compliance without removing the otherwise unidentified decontaminants that may remain.

According to Colorado regulations, surfaces must be washed with a water based material. Remediation companies that merely spray chemicals on surfaces and allow those to react as a sole remediation process not only violate State regulations by using this technique, but also, testing has demonstrated that the properties are still contaminated following the process. (See for example the Hooker Street critical review for details.)

Currently, there are no scheduled meth-lab training courses open to the general public

Special thanks to Jan Buitron, MSc IA, CISSP, Doctoral Candidate in Computer Science for her reviews, criticisms and comments.
To return to our main methamphetamine discussion, click here.

To learn how to recognize the signs of a methlab, click here.

For a discussion of errors on the El Paso County Department of Health and Environment January 8th, 2009 flier, click here.

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