VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (April 2012) – Methamphetamine has become the number one drug of choice for abusers since the 1980’s, surpassing cocaine. The meteoric rise in use is due largely to its commonplace ingredients, ease of manufacture and low cost. Illegal production in small labs using homemade recipes increased rapidly in a little over ten years. By 2006, a U.N. World Drug Report cited over 26 million meth addicts in the world; the number of addicts equaled the combined number for cocaine and heroin users. The United States, in 2006, had 1.4 million meth users.
When officers respond to a call, they do not always know what waits for them behind the door. In some cases, they come across makeshift meth labs. Many officers have experienced the immediate effects of exposure with burning eyes, throats and coughing, while others, after repeated exposures, have chronic effects. These may include esophageal problems, autoimmune disease, heart attacks, strokes, gall bladder problems and other rare disorders. In at least one case in Utah, a former officer died of causes believed to be related to frequent exposure to the chemicals involved in meth production.
Morphix Technologies®, an innovator in the science of colorimetric detection devices for dangerous chemical gases, is on the forefront of preventing accidental exposure to first responders from these toxic chemicals with the release of their educational video “Detection of Methamphetamine Labs and Their Effects on First Responders”. The video discusses what methamphetamine is and the history and spread of its use throughout the United States, as well as how its use and production affects first responders. The video also provides helpful tips on how first responders can protect themselves.
First responders can take the extra step to protect themselves in such scenarios by wearing the Chameleon® Clan-Meth Lab Detection Kit, a field-configurable chemical detection unit, manufactured by Morphix Technologies®. The Chameleon® is a low-cost, easy-to-use, hands-free solution for first responders. It contains disposable cassettes that detect five different toxic gases commonly found in methamphetamine production.
The Chameleon® is the best early detection method available to determine if harmful chemicals are present in an unknown situation. Most police and EMS agencies do not have chemical detection equipment available to them, thus the need for a simple, inexpensive method, such as the Chameleon®, to determine if chemical hazards are present.
The Chameleon® can be used for “whole house” or “shake and bake” methamphetamine lab situations. In addition to the protection of officers, the Chameleon® can also provide probable cause for search warrants.
The use of Chameleon® Detection Kits by police, fire and first responders during calls of service and as a part of their training program can provide an extra measure of safety and perhaps even save lives. In addition to safety considerations, the use of the Chameleon® can reduce liability, injury and time off as well as the associated cost.
The Chameleon® is designed for an easy on/easy off fit on the wearer’s forearm and can be worn over most turn-out gear or Level-A suits. The sensors change color when toxic gases are present and require no power source or calibration. Unlike current colorimetric detection systems, the Chameleon® is designed to military standards for use in a wide variety of operating environments. It can be used in desert heat, arctic cold or tropical conditions and can even be immersed in water. The Chameleon® detects gases and vapors in the air where other technologies only detect hazards in liquid or aerosol forms. Gaseous forms of toxic chemicals are the most likely danger to first responders, police and fire personnel.