Title 410 of the Indiana Administrative Code Article 38 requires the cleanup of properties that have been contaminated with chemicals used in the illegal manufacturing of controlled substances. Any property that is used for manufacturing illegal drugs, such as methamphetamine, is referred to as a clandestine drug lab.
The Indiana State Police (ISP) is responsible for the seizure of methamphetamine labs found in Elkhart County. They remove the bulk chemicals, reactions, vessels, and various other drug paraphernalia that pose an immediate threat to public safety and the environment. ISP then posts a sticker on the property stating that a clandestine lab was seized there.
The Elkhart County Health Department (ECHD) protects the public health by ensuring that the contaminated properties remain vacant until they are cleaned up. This is done by issuing and posting an Unfit for Human Habitation order on the property under the Indiana Code 16-41-20.
The property owner will receive information from the ECHD that will include instructions on how to proceed. The property owner has two options; the property may be properly demolished, or the property may be decontaminated with a Certificate of Decontamination and an official cleanup report issued by a Qualified Inspector (QI). Property owners are responsible for the testing and decontamination of their properties before they can reoccupy, rent, or sell the property. The property owner must contact the ECHD and hire a QI before any work is done. The QI will test, decontaminate, and ultimately certify the property as decontaminated.
The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) oversees the drug lab cleanup process under the Indiana Code 410-38. They provide technical assistance for Local Health Departments, provide property owners with a list of certified QIs, review the QI’s work, accepts or rejects Certificates of Decontamination, and can require further testing and decontamination as needed.
Even after the removal of the illicit lab equipment and chemicals, residual amounts of chemicals and byproducts remain in the property due to the hazardous chemicals used to manufacture the drugs soaking into porous materials. This can include walls, floors, cabinets, furniture, and personal items.
Health effects caused by exposure to illegal drug lab chemicals depend upon three factors: the lab process and the chemicals used to manufacture, the number of chemicals used and length of exposure, and the age and health of the person exposed. There are at least four ways to be exposed to illegal drug lab residue: unintended injection, inhalation, ingestion, or absorption through the skin.
Long-term exposure effects are not known but may include neurological issues, increased risk of cancer, liver and kidney damage, and respiratory issues. Children are especially vulnerable to these health effects due to their contact with contaminated surfaces (such as carpeting) and hand to mouth behavior.
For more information on methamphetamine laboratories and their cleanup processes, please visit:
For a list of the currently identified methamphetamine labs in Elkhart County, please visit: