Clandestine drug laboratories

Clandestine Laboratories (clan labs) are used for the manufacture of illicit drugs such as methamphetamine. Clan labs present an insidious risk to the community as toxic chemicals are generated during the drug manufacturing processes. Whilst not always immediately apparent, these chemicals can contaminate buildings, furniture, soil, water, and air within or close to the clan lab site. Given the risk these chemicals can pose to public health, it is important that the chemical contamination in premises used as clan labs is professionally assessed and where required remediated.

In order to effectively manage the public health risks posed by clan labs, SA Health has developed a public health policy and practice guideline.

South Australian Public Health Clandestine Drug Laboratories Policy and Practice Guideline

The South Australian Public Health (Clandestine Drug Laboratories) Policy 2016 (PDF 14KB) has been created under Section 53 of the South Australian Public Health Act 2011.

To support the application of policy, the Practice Guideline for the Management of Clandestine Drug Laboratories under the South Australian Public Health Act 2011 (PDF 970KB) has also been developed.

Aims

The primary aim of the policy and practice guideline is to support local government environmental health officers ensure that properties used as clandestine drug laboratories do not present a risk to public health. They do this by providing the framework to ensure the chemical contamination in clan lab premises is assessed and where required remediated.

The assessment of clandestine drug laboratories – for drugs other than methamphetamine

Whilst the practice guideline and the National Clandestine Drug Laboratory Remediation Guidelines have an emphasis on the manufacture of methamphetamine, the assessment and remediation processes described in these guidelines are applicable to the manufacture of any illicit drug (excluding synthetic opioids). The fact sheet Clandestine drug laboratory assessment: for drugs other than methamphetamine has been developed to:

  • Assist public health authorities manage the public health risks associated with clandestine drug laboratories identified within their areas where drugs other than methamphetamine have been manufactured.
  • Inform home owners of the processes involved in assessing and managing the health risks associated with any illicit drug manufacture that has occurred on or within their property. Home owners should also refer to the fact sheet A clandestine drug laboratory was detected on my property — what happens now? (PDF 905KB)
  • To provide suitably qualified experts (as defined in the Practice Guideline) with specific guidance on assessing the level of contamination associated with clandestine drug laboratories where drugs other than methamphetamine have been manufactured.

Clandestine Drug Laboratories in South Australia: Summary of Findings 2019

Evaluation of the implementation of the South Australian Public Health (Clandestine Drug Laboratories) Policy 2016 (PDF 14KB) has been undertaken and has identified inconsistencies in the approaches and methodologies applied to the assessment of clandestine drug laboratories in South Australia. A summary of findings report has been produced: Clandestine Drug Laboratories in South Australia: Summary of Findings 2019 (PDF 770KB).

To improve the quality and consistency of assessment of clandestine drug laboratories in South Australia, the following guidance has been developed for suitably qualified experts (clan lab assessors) and property owners:

Further information

For further information please email HealthProtectionPrograms@sa.gov.au or telephone (08) 8226 7100.