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Health effects associated with indoor marijuana grow operations

Martyny, J.W., Van Dyke, M.V., Schaeffer, J., and Serrano, K. – 2012

Report of a study of the chemical and biological exposures associated with indoor marijuana grow operations. Provides background on the emergence of indoor grow ops, and summarizes the health hazards faced by persons living in them (particularly children), as well as by law enforcement and first responders entering the home. Hazards include exposure to mold, carbon monoxide, and chemicals, and risk of explosion. Authors took samples from 30 marijuana grow ops and analyzed the results. Authors found elevated levels of viable and non-viable mold spores in a majority of the grow ops. THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) was also found using surface wipe tests. Carbon dioxide generators (a source of carbon monoxide and respiratory irritation) were seen at several grow ops. Pesticides and fertilizers were found within the reach of children at a number of the grow ops. Concludes that the primary public health concern of indoor grow ops is elevated mold spore levels, which can be high enough to require respiratory protection for investigators entering the scene. Summarizes expected hazards and current personnel protection guidelines. Authors provide additional protection and decontamination recommendations based on results of the study, divided into the amount of exposure associated with initial response, investigation, and removal/destruction of the grow op. Individuals with respiratory and immune system disorders are advised to take special precautions because of elevated mold levels.