Remediation of a Residential Fentanyl Lab Using Dahlgren Decon
Across our country, Fentanyl is a major contributor to fatal and nonfatal overdoses. An overdose in a public bathroom is an all-too-common call received by Police, Fire, and EMS professionals. However, a great number of Fentanyl-related overdoses are due to illicitly manufactured fentanyl often within the residential home. These manufacturing sites are only discovered when responders are called to a residence for another matter entirely. Once responders enter, they discover the location is being used as a Fentanyl lab. Unfortunately, such was the case in Toronto, Canada when a local Fire Department responded to a Carbon Monoxide alarm.
While investigating, the firemen found a drug processing and tableting set-up in a room in the basement of the residence. There were at least two pill presses and a large amount of powder; Carfentanil and cutting agents like caffeine. It was noted that the homeowner had sealed the HVAC vents and return air with plastic. Law enforcement was contacted and 42 kg of Carfentanil was confiscated from the residence. The public health department then put a “Do Not Occupy” notice on the property and would not reopen the residence until it was decontaminated and properly remediated.
The Response Deploying Dahlgren Decon
Decontamination commenced about 3 to 4 weeks after the initial law enforcement response and by then the utilities to the house had been turned off. There was a total of eight (8) personnel on the Response Team. Two of these team members were on entry. There were two Rapid Intervention Team personnel. Two individuals for decon and contributors also included an Industrial Hygienist and a Consultant.
After setting up decon with Dahlgren Decon and FiberTect, the team made their initial entry in Non-encapsulated Level B Gear [See: Kappler Hazmat Suits] because of the concerns regarding carbon monoxide and oxygen levels in the residence. The initial entry was a visual inspection and to sample air quality. Law enforcement had taken most of the items out of the basement room but there were empty pans, totes, dye for coloring the pills, and visible powder on surfaces, including the walls. A GoPro was used for documentation. The team egressed through decon.
Air samples taken revealed that there was enough oxygen, so the team switched to full-face APRs with Organic Vapor/Acid Gas Cartridges [See: Airboss Defense Group Airboss 100 Half Mask Respirator] and re-entered the residence to take powder samples.
The team sampled all floors of the residence, including the furnace and HVAC system. They also placed battery powered particulate air samplers on each floor of the residence and then egressed again through decon and secured the residence.
The two-story residence was approximately 2,500 square foot with a full finished basement. Sampling from the main floor and upper floor came back clear. However, there was contamination present throughout the basement. Once the samples returned positive for Carfentanil they developed a remediation plan.
The Remediation Plan Using Dahlgren Decon
Remediation began with removing the basement door. The team then hung plastic sheeting across the door frame and on the walls at the top of the basement stairs and set up an egress decon station there. They had a safety guy standing by with nasal spray Naloxone and two loaded naloxone syringes. They also had a SKED [See: AlbacMat Emergency Rescue Mat] for emergency evacuation. It is worth mentioning that it was December and close to freezing inside the residence, since the electricity was turned off. However, the team was pleasantly surprised and noted that they had no issues mixing Dahlgren Decon.
First, they removed the trim from the walls and the electrical outlets and removed the switch covers. They HEPA vacuumed any visible powder, including the drywall dust that was behind the removed covers to ensure that anyone coming into the house later would not be concerned about the “white powder” drywall dust.
Then they used full strength Dahlgren Decon and applied it with a handheld First Line Technology Victory MG200 Electrostatic Sprayer. They sprayed Dahlgren Decon on all surfaces and let it sit overnight, then cleaned the walls and floors using mops, rags, and clean water.
Outlet covers were also washed in Dahlgren Decon in the sink. All sinks were treated with Dahlgren Decon by pouring it down the drain and letting it sit. Even though the HVAC system tested clean, they removed the filter and turned the fan on and sprayed Dahlgren Decon directly into the intake. Dahlgren Decon was applied to all surfaces, including ceilings, walls, and floors. There was no damage or discoloration from Dahlgren Decon to anything in the house including the flooring, doorknobs, metal fittings, paint, or walls. They also applied Dahlgren Decon to the carpet in the basement, let it sit overnight, and then cleaned the carpet with a high-temp carpet extractor. Then they disposed of the carpet and underpadding as non-hazardous waste.
It is worth noting the team used Dahlgren Decon many times in the past to treat carpets rather than remove them. In their experience each time, multiple swab tests of the carpets were taken, and the carpets and carpet extractor tanks had no positive hits.
Equipment Used – Handheld and Backpack Decon Sprayers
The team used handheld sprayers and noted that the batteries last the entire job. For greater convenience they also sprayed for over an hour without stopping using a backpack sprayer with battery with no issues.
The entire remediation took about a week. The applying of Dahlgren Decon took about an hour.
Past Experience Using Dahlgren Decon
In the past, the team also treated household appliances with Dahlgren Decon. They removed contents of refrigerators. Then sprayed Dahlgren Decon inside and outside of the refrigerators and then washed it off. They also treated washing machines and dishwashers by allowing them to a run cycle with Dahlgren Decon. Dryers were treated by placing Dahlgren Decon soaked rags into the cavity, and allowing them to cycle thru.
The team stated they will often dilute Dahlgren Decon to about one part Dahlgren Decon to five parts water since they found it is as effective and the cleanup easier. They also stated that they would still use full strength Dahlgren Decon on areas that had visible powder.
Personnel Decontamination using the Enhanced Decon System – EDS6
The team uses the First Line Enhanced Decon System-EDS6 as their standard personnel decontamination for white powder calls and have used it with great success. Sometimes, the team sets up decon outside the building, but many times they were asked for a low-profile response and contained decon in an entranceway such as the space between the exterior doors and interior doors. These areas often have glass walls, and tile floors, and is therefore ideal for the First Line Enhanced Decon System (EDS) setup.
Proof that the Residence or Building is Clean
The team works with third-party Industrial Hygienists who take multiple samples. However, those samples take a week to provide results and for many businesses or restaurants it is not practical to have a bathroom or other area shut down for a week. So, the team also uses the Smith’s IonScan 600 Ion Mobility Spectrometer and more recently the 908 Devices MX908 High Pressure Mass Spectrometer to get nearly instant results, so that the affected areas can be reopened to the public.
Based on an Interview between Corey Collings, First Line Technology’s Training Specialist and Co-Founder of First Line Utilization Academy, and Chris Andrews of Canadian Decon Solutions, President of Canadian Decon Solutions (Canadian Decon Solutions was founded in 2017 primarily to import and resell First Line Technology decontamination products in Canada).