Health and law enforcement officials across the country are becoming increasingly alarmed at the number of homes being sold that were once used as meth houses or laboratories. The problem developing is that former homes where meth was either used or manufactured are in fact health hazards to anyone currently residing in them due to the residual poisons that were soaked into the walls, window treatments and flooring.
Health officials say the number of people incurring health issues is constantly increasing to the point where several states are beginning to pass laws that require a home seller to disclose if the house was ever involved with meth at any level.
For every pound of meth that was cooked in a home, five to seven pounds of chemical waste products are created. From this waste, a variety of long term health problems can occur including but not limited to: headaches, blisters, damaged lungs, liver or kidneys.
In the case of very young children crawling around on a floor soaked with meth byproducts or picking up objects and putting them in their mouths, brain damage may develop.
In 2005, nearly 17,000 homes were seized by authorities (many ending up in foreclosure) and unknown to those subsequently purchasing these homes, the families inhabiting them are exposed to the dangers of the toxic chemical waste left behind.
While at this time there are no federal guidelines for cleanup of these materials, in 12 states (Arizona included), it is illegal to occupy a dwelling before it’s been decontaminated.
However, in most states there are few protections in place.
Fourteen states (including Arizona) require property owners to disclose if the property offered was a former drug house and 13 states (Arizona being one of them) have actually established a guideline for cleanup.
The cost of cleaning and decontaminating a former meth lab is astronomical. It can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 to complete. Unfortunately, with no federal assistance in place, the price tag is up to the property owner to absorb.
Right now there are literally tens of thousands of contaminated residences across the United States. Living in one of these former drug houses can very easily cause a family to face financial ruin between having to pay for any possible cleanup, developing health-related illnesses and having to throw away any personal possessions that can’t be cleaned. Add to that the cost of acquiring another residence and then moving. It is a nationwide nightmare.
Currently the national Jewish Medical and Research Center is conducting a study on the impact of meth labs. In the meantime if you are considering a home purchase, do your research!
For questions or more information on the Gila County Meth Coalition contact chair Claudia DalMolin at the Gila County Sheriff’s Office, (928) 425-4440; co-chair Bianca DalMolin, (928) 701-1790; facilitator Misty Cisneros, (928) 425-1879; or media liaison Lu DuBois, (928) 425-4440.
Source: Gila County Meth Coalition