In recent years, several issues regarding the environmental effects of methamphetamine have been researched. In 2007, a Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GC-MS) was purchased for use in the detection of methamphetamine and other materials used in clandestine production. Studies regarding the detection of lithium and the degradation of methamphetamine over time were conducted using this equipment. The following sub-sections describe the studies conducted by RMEP and the MSU Chemistry Department.
Lithium metal is a key element in the clandestine production of methamphetamine. Lithium is used as a reducing agent during the chemical process. It is a readily available element that can be found in common household batteries. While lithium is a naturally occurring element whose toxicity is limited, elevated lithium levels in soil can indicate a methamphetamine dump or cook site. In 2008, Dr. Robert Crackel, MSU chemistry professor, and student researcher Jack M. Carraher used the equipment provided by RMEP and tested methods for extracting lithium from soil in the study: A Comparison of Methods for Determining Lithium Extracted from Soil; Analysis via Flame Atomic Absorption. This article was published by the North Dakota Academy of Science.
In the fall of 2009, LeeAnn Pekovitch, RMEP Training & Research Associate, under the supervision of Dr. Robert Crackel, conducted the study Temperature Degradation of Methamphetamine as a Function of Time. This study explored how methamphetamine breaks down over time at both room temperature and elevated temperatures. During this 57 day study, methamphetamine samples were collected from glass surfaces at room temperature and elevated temperatures. The study documented that while the amount of methamphetamine detected decreased over time in both groups, methamphetamine concentration decreased at a faster rate when the temperature was elevated.
On-going research includes the testing of a variety of cleaners to determine their effectiveness in removing methamphetamine from surfaces. MSU chemistry students are currently investigating the influence the type of surface has on the removal of methamphetamine.