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July 28, 2017 – Nevada County Environmental Health Department receives citizen reports of illegally dumped butane canisters upon private or public lands.  The most frequent question: Can Environmental Health come out and remove the canisters?

Discarded butane canisters, usually 6 oz. (300ml) each, are assumed to be generated from clandestine Honey Oil Labs in which the butane is used to extract and concentrate tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient from marijuana.   After the extraction, the THC is concentrated as an oil by vaporizing the butane off from the extraction solution.

The used butane canisters are eventually discarded, usually in large numbers.  Unless punctured during the extraction process, used canisters should not be considered empty.  Intact canisters are assumed to contain residual butane under pressure.  Some butane canister producers use a proprietary combination of butane and propane.  All of these pressurized gas canisters are considered hazardous as they contain flammable gas.  Butane is heavier than air, so it will linger at ground level.  This enhances the hazard should the gas concentrate near an ignition source or open flame.

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The Environmental Health Department encourages our citizens to utilize our on-line complaint portal to report illegally dumped butane canisters.  Complaints should contain as much information as possible such as: address, cross-streets, dumpsite features that may inhibit access to the dumpsite location, is the property vacant, private land or public and any other information that would be useful to our investigation.

The Environmental Health Department works closely with the State of California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) which has a program focused on cleaning up butane canister dumpsites.

To file a complaint regarding butane canisters, please visit our on-line reporting portal and select “report an environmental health problem” under Services.