Clandestine drug laboratories

Clandestine drug laboratories (clan labs) are sites where illegal drugs, particularly methamphetamine (meth, ice), are manufactured using improvised materials and methods.

The materials used and resulting drugs and waste can be harmful to human health. The process can also result in persistent and invisible drug residues, such as meth, on many of the surfaces throughout the property.

Contamination from meth labs is normally much more dangerous than the surface residue that remains from smoking meth. Residue from smoking meth is far more common. The source of residue can be difficult to determine but residues resulting from manufacture normally require a higher level of remediation. 


In Western Australia (WA) clan labs are normally reported to or identified by police who then notify relevant authorities where there is a need to manage any associated property contamination.

When Department of Health is notified, an initial review is undertaken, and the notification is forwarded to either the local government authority or Department of Communities for public housing.

The number of clan labs found in WA has radically decreased (171 between 2010 and 2011 to approximately 20 - 30 per annum in recent years). The main reason is likely the increased number of illicit drugs illegally imported into the State.

 It is estimated that in WA about 40% of clan labs are associated with meth. Other clan labs are associated with either the extraction of dimethyl tryptamine (DMT) or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the active ingredient in cannabis.

There may be clan labs that remain unidentified. However, where meth surface residue is found, the most probable source is smoking. In the absence of any suspicion or evidence of clan lab operations at a property, the source of residue can be presumed to be from meth smoking.


WA guidance considers the increasing concern about meth smoke residue and the changing character of illicit drug production in WA by addressing contamination from both clan labs and smoking in the Guide for testing and remediation of methylamphetamine and illicit drug residues in residential properties (PDF 736KB). This Guide is primarily for use by illicit drug contamination testing and remediation companies but may be cited to provide regulatory direction in a Notice issued under the relevant public health legislation.

Contamination service providers

The Department recommends using suitably qualified professionals. A list of companies qualified for testing and remediating chemical residues (PDF 643KB) is available that have been reviewed to ensure they have the capability to undertake work as outlined by the Guide. Other providers may be unqualified and/or may undertake unsatisfactory work. 


The following resources may be useful in assessing and managing clan labs: 

Consumer information

More information

Environmental Health Directorate

Phone: 9222 2000

Last reviewed: 13-09-2023
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Environmental Health Directorate