Cannabis drug

Marijuana attracts the Aspergillus mold.

Law enforcement officers have a dangerous job – even when their primary responsibility is to guard the property evidence and storage rooms. One of the biggest hazards they face is mold, and more specifically, the Aspergillus fungus.

Aspergillus grows on any biological item, but it really likes marijuana and it doesn’t need much moisture to prosper and grow. When marijuana is stored in plastic, even minute amounts of moisture that is held by the plastic can support the growth of Aspergillus.

Aspergillus can affect law enforcement officers’ health

The problem is that even perfectly dried marijuana plants still contain 10-15% water. When property evidence officers handle the decaying material, they can be exposed to mold spores that enter the human body through the ears and nose. Reported health effects are stuffiness, a feeling of being unwell, coughing, wheezing and lung damage.

Another issue with plastic is the destruction of evidence. When officers use plastic to hold evidence, the retained moisture can cause it to mold, corrode or rust, and plastic is often blamed for destroying latent fingerprints. Some law enforcement officers ask that plastic is only used for drug-related items, except marijuana, and jewelry.

To stave off mold infestations, evidence storage rooms need to

  • Install adequate ventilation systems and make regular filter replacements
  • Implement an improved storage system: Don’t store copious amounts of marijuana, especially after a case has been adjudicated. Document and photograph excessive amounts of marijuana, and only keep samples. The samples must be cleaned and sealed appropriately
  • Ensure good housekeeping procedures: discard all materials that are visibly affected by fungi, clean all surfaces and disinfect the area, supply workers with protective equipment
  • Recognize the hazards and the best ways to deal with them
  • Look into other air cleaning methods to protect law enforcement officers. Electrocorp’s industrial air purifiers, including the RAP and RSU series are powerful air scrubbers that can help provide better air in storage rooms

    RAP series air cleaners

    The RAP Series air filtration systems can be equipped with a UV lamp for extra protection against mold spores.

  • Consider each case individually for marijuana storage. Burlap or paper bags let the moisture escape, but they also won’t hold off mold spores. Impermeable bags made out of plastics can cause the contents to turn into a mushy soup of questionable evidential value. The best choice is dependent on the amount of time it is stored, the quality of the material and the existing situation in the evidence room.

Electrocorp offers a variety of stand-alone, industrial-strength air purification systems for law enforcement that address not only live airborne bacteria and fungi, but also provide superior particle and chemical filtration capabilities.

An Electrocorp air purifier provides better, cleaner and more breathable air with activated carbon + HEPA filtration. Find out more about the RAP series from Electrocorp.

Sources: Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, International Association of Property and Evidence.