One of the Trumbull Soil and Water Conservation District's employees attended Ohio Department of Transportation training a few years ago as we signed up for the Adopt A Highway program.
As part of this training, safety, of course, was of prime importance. A topic that I think most people don't think about is methamphetamine laboratory waste along roadsides.
We were provided some very good handouts from ODOT on this topic and area of concern.
Meth lab chemicals are more common to be found along rural roads since the process emits a strong odor which can be masked near agriculture production areas.
According to ODOT, in 2004, 354 labs were found in Ohio, with more than 113 located in northeast Ohio, and it is a growing problem.
Exposure to meth lab chemicals can cause shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, dizziness, lack of coordination, and skin irritation / burning. Common injuries occur when closed containers of ammonia are opened out of curiosity or while conducting neighborhood cleanups.
Don't move any closed plastic or Styrofoam container or propane tank or camp stove. Just contact your local law enforcement agency. The best rule is if it looks suspicious, then contact the authorities or if on a state highway or road as part of the highway cleanup program, let your contact at ODOT know.
My purpose is to make you aware about the dangers of meth lab waste, how to recognize them, and what to do if you find anything suspicious. I'm not telling you this to discourage you from cleaning near roadsides or farms, but just to be careful when you come upon a closed container.
We at the SWCD have participated in many cleanups with no problems or items of concern, so please keep on doing cleaning ups, but just be aware.
Mike Wilson is the administrator of the Trumbull Soil and Water Conservation District and is an associate member of the Trumbull County Farm Bureau.