Extension News

Meth Hazards Are No Mystery

Mystery Club

7/6/2009

AMES, Iowa – The Mystery Club is at it again. In 2001 Iowa State University Extension printed the first series of six farm-safety publications, and now the second series is under way.

The first title in the new series, “Meth – Stay Clear, Stay Safe” (PM 2069A), now is available from ISU Extension's online store, www.extension.iastate.edu/store, and discusses the production and consequences of methamphetamine, or meth. The drug is prominent in rural areas because of the prevalence of anhydrous ammonia, which, along with substances like drain cleaner, engine starter fluid and pseudoephedrine from cold medicine, is used to make meth. When mixed together, these materials create a hazardous cooking lab, waste and drug.

“We want to make sure that kids know that meth is dangerous and the trash from it is extremely dangerous,” said ISU Extension farm safety specialist Chuck Schwab, series co-author along with Deborah Stabler, Progressive Agriculture Foundation curriculum consultant. 

According to the publication, an estimated one in five meth labs explodes, and the ones that don’t still release and expose poisonous gases and fumes to everyone near them. The drug itself can cause users to hallucinate, become nervous or moody or react violently. It leads to extreme weight loss, blackened gums, loss of teeth, damaged organs, fragile bones and increased risk of heart attacks or strokes. In addition, users often have large open sores where they’ve scratched their dry, itchy skin, another meth characteristic.

“It’s interesting that all the publications in the first series in 2001 were about hazards, but there was some benefit to the risk. For instance, tractors are the number one killer, but they also make today’s farming possible,” said Schwab. “Meth, however, has no use at all. It’s just plain bad.”

In Iowa there were 1,500 meth lab incident responses in 2004, but only 201 in 2008, according to the Iowa Government’s Office of Drug Control Policy. Ranked 11th highest in the nation for meth treatment admissions, the state also has seen a decline in the number of child abuse cases related to meth labs. To improve the statistics, both children and adults need to know about the drug and how to identify a meth lab or waste. This is where publications like The Mystery Club can play a role.

The publication is divided into various sections with information and activities that will interest kids from age eight to 15. Working with the Progressive Agriculture Foundation (PAF), ISU Extension is able to disperse the publication to more than 60,000 kids through more than 350 Progressive Agriculture Safety Days held around the United States, Canada, Virgin Islands and American Samoa every year.

“These publications provide a take-home message that reinforces what the kids learn at safety day and also provide information for others who can’t attend,” said Schwab. “Through the PAF we opened the publications to broader audiences, which means more people are seeing our resources.”

With increased interest, Schwab hopes to inform his new and faithful readers about water safety next, as the Mystery Club series continues.

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Contacts :

Chuck Schwab, Ag and Biosystems Engineering, (515) 294-4131, cvschwab@iastate.edu

Hannah McCulloh, Extension Communications and External Relations, (515) 294-9915, hmac@iastate.edu

Laura Sternweis, Extension Communications and External Relations, (515) 294-0775, lsternwe@iastate.edu