A toxic substance can be any chemical that may be harmful to the environment or human health if inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through the skin.
Mercury exists in several forms: elemental or metallic mercury, inorganic mercury compounds, and organic mercury compounds. Elemental or metallic mercury is a shiny, silver-white metal and is liquid at room temperature. If heated, it is a colorless, odorless gas.
Exposure to mercury can affect the human nervous system and harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and immune system. The most common way we are exposed to mercury is by eating fish or shellfish that are contaminated with mercury.
Another less common exposure to mercury that can be a concern is breathing mercury vapor. These exposures can occur when elemental mercury or products that contain elemental mercury break and release mercury to the air, particularly in warm or poorly-ventilated indoor spaces.
Mercury is often used in everyday household objects, including thermometers, florescent light bulbs, thermostats, gauges, clothes irons and some oil-based paint. So it’s important to dispose of those items properly.
You should never put mercury in the trash or pour it down the drain. In Allen County, you can take Items containing mercury to the Allen County Department of Environmental Management, or a mercury recycling location.
For more information on mercury, see these resources:
- Don’t Mess with Mercury (ASTDR)
- Cleaning Up a Mercury Spill (EPA)
- How to Clean Up a Broken CFL Bulb (contains mercury) (EPA)
- Mercury Information (IDEM)
- Mercury Fact Sheet (AC Solid Waste Management)
Methamphetamine (Meth) is an extremely addictive stimulant drug that is chemically similar to amphetamine. It takes the form of a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder.
The drug is easily made in small clandestine laboratories, with relatively inexpensive over-the-counter ingredients such as pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient in cold medicines.
Methamphetamine production also involves a number of other, very hazardous chemicals. Toxicity from these chemicals can remain in the environment around a methamphetamine production lab long after the lab has been shut down, causing a wide range of health problems for people living in the area.
Dwellings (including houses, apartments, duplexes and hotel/motel rooms) where meth is manufactured are considered uninhabitable until they are properly decontaminated per state law (Title 318 IAC 1). The process to test and clean can be expensive.
The law enforcement agency that closes the meth lab is to notify the local health and fire departments about the location. The local health departments then works with the property owners to ensure dwellings where operational meth labs were identified are decontaminated before they are re-inhabited.
For more information on meth, see these resources:
- Allen County Code Title 10, Article 12, Public Health Hazards
- Inspection and Cleanup of Illegal Drug Labs (ISDH)
- Indiana’s Meth Rule, Title 410 IAC 38
- List of Qualified Inspectors for Illegal Drug-Lab Clean-Up (ISDH)
- Map of Cleared Properties in Indiana (ISDH)
- Methamphetamine Lab Activity in Allen County 2008-2016 (DOH)
- Meth Lab Suppression Section (ISP)
- Illegal Drug Lab Locations in Indiana (ISP)
- Hunters Beware Meth Lab Trash (ISP)
- How to Identify a Meth Lab (About.com)
- Hazards of Chemicals and Equipment of Meth Lab (KCI.org)
- Health Effects of Meth – Children (US Dept of Justice)
- Unmasked: The Stigma of Meth Documentary (Ball State University)