As farmers work in the fields and local residents tidy up their yards, local law enforcement personnel say to throw out roadside trash with caution.

Medway Drug Enforcement Agency Director Don Hall said one main reason for advising caution while cleaning up the yard during the spring is straight-forward — one-pot meth labs.

The labs are toxic and flammable, Hall said, and are often disposed of in fields, ditches, forests and everywhere in between.

While not all plastic bottles pitched by the side of the road are one-pot meth labs, he explained, it is important to be cautious.

The frequency of this type of drug activity has been increasing, Hall said, noting “the last two years have been record- breaking.”

In 2013, Medway responded to 28 one-pot meth lab-related calls. In 2014, that number jumped to 32.

He said 2015 appears to be on track to break records as Medway has already responded to 16-17 calls.

Hall said waste from one-pot meth labs are disposed of in all kinds of places, but secluded fields, ditches and woods continue to be common locations.

Hall said some identifiable characteristics can belie a one-pot meth lab’s otherwise innocuous appearance.

The plastic bottles are often a weird color, he said, and will contain a pink-colored sludge. The labs also contain black solid pieces.

“Don’t mess with it,” Hall said.

One-pot meth labs and their waste have a propensity for exploding, Hall said, and there are a number of reasons for that. The contents of the lab are infused with camp stove fuel, he said, and are flammable.

One-pot meth labs also contain lithium, Hall said, which reacts when it comes in contact with water.

It is for that reason, he said, the labs are so volatile.

A slight movement could cause condensation to drip from the top of the bottle into the mixture, he said.

During a Wayne County Farm Bureau policy meeting in April, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Blaine Budd said meth labs are a significant concern for farmers and other county residents with property that has secluded roadside frontage.

“This stuff is very, very volatile,” he said, cautioning the people around him to not be so quick to pick up all the trash they find by the road. “It can cause some major damage.”

Farmers do sometimes stop as they are doing their work to pick up trash that may have been thrown in their field, said Wayne County Ohio State University Extension educator Rory Lewandowski, who was at the Farm Bureau meeting. While not every plastic bottle is going to stop the tractor, he said farmers are like all land owners and “want to keep their properties fairly neat.”

Lewandowski said he was fairly surprised by the comments he heard about one-pot meth labs at the Farm Bureau meeting. Describing how he and his wife often pick up roadside trash at home, he said, “It gave me something to think about.”

By THOMAS DOOHAN @the-daily-record.com