This report presents the methodology and findings of a study that collectively burned One Pot methamphetamine lab cooks to visually observe the performance of several fire prevention or extinguishing methods currently recommended for controlling One Pot meth lab fires.
The One Pot method of methamphetamine production is a variation of older lithium-ammonia reduction methods that enable methamphetamine production in a single reaction vessel, which is commonly a plastic bottle. The lithium-ammonia reduction method of methamphetamine production, such as the One Pot method, uses lithium as an electron source to reduce the hydroxyl group on pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, forming methamphetamine. The organic solvents used during a One Pot cook are volatile, causing them to become a gas that can be inhaled and cause respiratory issues. In the current study, One Pot methamphetamine cooks were performed in a garden shed to simulate the environment of a small-yield clandestine lab. Within the shed, contamination monitoring was provided through body-worn sample collectors and surface area wipe sampling. Air monitoring was done inside and downwind of the shed to collect and identify the plume effluents from the One Pot cooks, using ether and camp fuel as cook solvents. At the end of this study, the One Pots were burned to investigate several popular products currently used to combat or prevent One Pot lab fires. The techniques examined included use of a Cold Fire Tactical personal fire extinguisher, use of a training dry-powder fire extinguisher, and pre-fire use of Imbiber Beads designed for flammable solvent waste absorption. The Cold Fire Tactical personal fire extinguisher was able to prevent the fire from spreading, but it was ineffective at fully extinguishing the fire. The training drug-powder fire extinguisher quickly extinguished the One Pot lab fires and did not cause the fire to spread while it was being extinguished. 82 figures, 13 tables, and 21 references