Chemical Interaction of Bleach and Methamphetamine: A Study of Degradation and Transformation Effects

by Nakayama, Matthew Tadao, M.S., UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS, 2011, 195 pages; 1493688


The clandestine synthesis of methamphetamine is a continuing epidemic across the nation. Not only does increased methamphetamine production supply the controlled substance to users, but also continues to burden law enforcement and other government agencies. Even when clandestine methamphetamine production ceases, the associated issues and long-term hazards do not end. Methamphetamine synthesis leaves behind hours of cleanup and testing, as well as the serious threat of potential health hazards.

Clandestine laboratories (Clan Labs) utilize chemicals hazardous to both living organisms and the surrounding environment. Ingredients such as organic solvents, iodine, phosphorous and strong acids and bases are commonly used in methamphetamine production, resulting in a potentially deadly environment. Additionally, it is not uncommon for clan lab operators to dispose of chemical waste on the property's premises leading to future environmental concerns. Chemical and residual methamphetamine contamination of household surfaces may occur during the synthesis process rendering the area unfit for habitation.

In August 2009, the federal branch of the Environmental Protection Agency introduced recommended guidelines for the remediation of former clan labs. Prior to the federal standards several states, including California, had enacted their own statutes specifically regulating the cleanup of former clan labs. The regulations commonly set the acceptable limit of contamination required for future habitation of the structure, as well as any recommended decontamination procedures. Decontamination typically requires the removal of all bulk chemicals, controlled substances, and glassware. Site cleanup, removal or complete replacement of contaminated areas and subsequent testing of all afflicted areas are also required for complete decontamination. Regarding non-visible methamphetamine contamination, current recommendations include detergent or bleach washings of contaminated surfaces. Previous experiments were conducted on the chemical effects of various household cleaning solutions on methamphetamine tainted surfaces. However, a full investigation into the efficacy of bleach as a methamphetamine decontaminant, or the subsequent chemical byproducts, has not been undertaken.

This project's objective was to investigate the recommended use of bleach as a methamphetamine decontaminate. The study concentrated on both bleach's effectiveness at reducing methamphetamine levels, as well as potential chemical byproducts resulting from the reaction. It is hoped that the results of this study may aid law enforcement and environmental agencies by providing information regarding the future use of bleach for methamphetamine decontamination.

The experimental results showed a consistent decrease in methamphetamine concentration as bleach concentration and exposure time increased. A decrease in area concentrations was noted as the bleach concentration was increased, and as methamphetamine's exposure to the bleach solution increased. The bleach/methamphetamine reaction also consistently produced a compound, which is hypothesized to be N-chloro-N-methyl-1-phenylpropan-2-amine.

AdviserDon P. Land
Source TypeThesis
SubjectsOrganic chemistry
Publication Number1493688

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