November 7, 2003
KRQE News 13
Meth labs are a rapidly growing criminal cancer plaguing New Mexico, and officers are often asked to do the dirty work of cleaning up the volatile chemicals at the heart of the operations.
Two retired narcotics officers both have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and they believe it's because of chemicals they were exposed-to during years of busting methamphetamine labs.
Don and Deedy Smith were APD narcotics officers in the 1980’s when the meth labs problem was in its infancy and officers didn't wear the protective suits while cleaning them up.
“Back then there was no precautions taken, nothing was known about them we'd go into meth labs smoking cigarettes,” says don smith. “How we ever kept from blowing ourselves up I don't know.”
The two married, former officers have since been diagnosed with M.S. and the couple strongly believes their debilitating illness stems from years of breathing dangerous, unfiltered air from meth labs.
M.S. is a disease of the central nervous system where the body's immune system attacks the nerves, often leaving the victims with progressively less control of their bodies.
“We were told…that it's unheard of for a husband and a wife to have it (Multiple Sclerosis),” says Deedy.
However, experts who study the disease say as odd as the Smiths’ situation is, there's no proof chemicals like those in a meth lab can trigger M.S..
“They’re studying so many viruses, they've studied environment issues,” says Lorraine Torres of the Multiple Sclerosis Society. “They can't find any (cause) there.”
However, the experts also tell KRQE News 13 that no one has studied the possible connection between meth labs and multiple sclerosis. And now the National Jewish Medical Center in Denver is studying the chemicals used in meth labs - and the health problems that officers may suffer.
Don and Deedy Smith say they don't blame the police department for not
supplying them with protective gear because no one knew how bad the problem
was at the time.
Copyright © 2003, KRQE News 13