Meth labs continue downward trend in Tennessee as usage increases

Special Reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — More than 1,100 properties are being quarantined across Tennessee due to contamination from a meth lab. According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, meth use is on the rise while meth labs in the state have seen a sharp decline in recent years.

Tennessee Dangerous Drugs Task Force’s most recent annual report showed they assisted agencies in processing 45 meth labs seized in 2019, which is down from 104 in 2018, and 210 in 2017. The state ranked 5th in the United States for meth lab seizure incidents in 2019, the TBI reported.

“What we saw is a good lull in 2012. A lot of that had to do was that was homemade meth. And so when all of the laws were put in place to address precursors and to limit the amount of those precursors that were able to be picked up inside our drugstores we saw a drop,” said TBI Director David Rausch.

The TBI reported that as of August 2020, there were 13 meth labs discovered.

When law enforcement discovers a meth lab, they contact the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation with a new list every month.

“There’s a 60 day grace period in the law that if you get the property decontaminated within that 60 days that it doesn’t go on our registry,” said TDEC Environmental Consultant Chris Andel.

That list stated there were almost 1,300 properties contaminated by meth in Tennessee that were certified fit and released from quarantine. More than 1,100 were currently under quarantine with more than two dozen in Davidson County.

“With the manufacturing of methamphetamine, you have a number of chemicals that are involved, not to mention the methamphetamine itself. So you have organic solvents that may be present. You have acids, bases, reactive metals that could be there,” Andel said.

Andel said it’s crucial for the property to get cleaned up by an authorized decontamination contractor before anyone uses it due to the dangers of exposure.

“Of course we’re concerned for everybody’s health and safety but particularly with small children who may be in a house that has been quarantined they tend to crawl on the floor and come into contact with a lot of surfaces,” Andel said.

He encouraged anyone buying or renting property to look at their public database to see if it’s under quarantine for being a meth lab. Click HERE for more information.


News 2 is investigating the effect of meth’s comeback. Tennessee Meth Wars digs deeper into the drug’s evolving impact on individuals, communities, and law enforcement. Read more here.

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