Since World War II it is estimated there were over a million to a million and a half meth homes, most of which go undetected by law enforcement. Many clandestine meth labs are just that, i.e. secretly cooked and smoked in homes. National experts state over 12 million people have tried methamphetamine at one time or another and there are currently over 1.5 million active users. The DEA National Clandestine Laboratory Register, which lists by state the property addresses that have been seized by law enforcement for illegal manufacturing of drug labs, is voluntary and not actively updated. Therefore, just because a property address is not listed on DEA’s website, does not guarantee that the property has never been used to manufacture or smoke methamphetamine. Many of the properties that our company decontaminated were never listed on DEA’s website. There are also many clandestine meth labs that are never exposed by law enforcement, so as property owners move from different homes or apartments, the new occupant does not have a clue what contaminants are left in the home following the cooking or smoking of methamphetamine. The DEA’s registry doesn’t account for any undiscovered meth labs and many meth experts think it’s an underestimate. Professional meth lab cleanup contractors estimate that about 90 percent of meth houses are never uncovered. The DEA’s list can’t be relied upon because it’s completely voluntary and with the growing meth epidemic, record keeping is a horrific process.
Every House has a History Do You Know Yours?
Currently there are approximately only twenty states that have disclosure laws requiring sellers to disclose if the property they are selling has been a former meth lab home. Even if you live in a state with foreclosure laws, don’t automatically assume you are protected. There are also many homes that face foreclosure and they are not all from loss of jobs and inability to pay the mortgage. If a property owner is arrested by law enforcement for the illegal manufacturing of methamphetamines in their home, they are incarcerated and therefore, the bank forecloses on the property. If the property is in a state without disclosure laws, the bank could resell the home without decontaminating the property or disclosing the known history of the prior property owner’s illegal drug activities in that property. Over 75 percent of our decontamination projects are rental property and approximately 35 to 40 percent of Americans live in rental homes or apartments. Spring cleaning and a fresh coat of paint does not eliminate the hazards left in the rental property following the prior tenant’s illegal manufacturing or smoking of meth. Of the twenty states with disclosure laws they don’t apply to rental property. So many landlords aren’t going to disclose the history of the prior tenant’s activity. They want to re-rent the unit and if such information is disclosed, they are afraid it would keep the unit from being rented.
Think Meth Doesn’t Affect You, What About When You Travel?
Even if you are fortunate enough to live in a community where the illegal manufacturing or smoking of methamphetamine seems unheard of, have you ever stopped to consider the hotel room you stay in overnight on travel or vacation? About 35 to 40 percent of illegal drug lab busts are performed in hotel rooms. While the majority of busts in hotel rooms are located in your lower end or budget hotel rooms, recently there have been meth busts in higher end hotel rooms. “It’s a misconception that just because you’re staying in a nice place, you’re safe from the chemical hazards of a meth lab,” said Jesse Hambrick, Narcotics Agent for the Douglas County Police Force in Georgia when interviewed by ABC News. Another news article states that Michael Douglas’ son, Cameron Douglas, was facing additional drug charges following his July, 2009 arrest for selling methamphetamines from a high-end Manhattan New York hotel, so one can’t make the assumption that it’s only being manufactured or smoked in the low budget hotels.
American Homes Become an American Nightmare
Although meth houses are more concentrated in certain states, meth houses have been discovered in ALL fifty states. When many people think of a meth house they automatically assume these houses are crack houses. This is a gross misconception. There have been many high end value homes sold on the market that were former meth labs. Meth experts estimate that thousands to tens of thousands of people have discovered that what they thought was the American dream home is actually an American nightmare! Professional meth cleanup companies along with national and local health experts say it’s common for meth labs that haven’t been cleaned to test positive for residue no matter how long after police busts. It doesn’t just go away over time.
Meth Homes in the News
Listed below is a very small snapshot of actual news articles on how not knowing the history of a home can severely devastate one’s health and financial well-being.
- Oct 17, 2011, New Zealand – A young woman suffers severe health issues about two months after moving into her new apartment. Later discovering the cause was from a neighbor conducting an operational lab next door to her apartment. When she moved out her health issues improved
- Oct 6, 2011, West Valley City, Utah – A young couple purchased a foreclosed home in August. A weekend away from moving in one of them developed upper respiratory problems. That’s when a neighbor warned them they should test the home for meth. The levels came back so high the Salt Lake Valley Health Department condemned the house.
- July 5, 2011, Dayton, Ohio – A couple with children purchased a home in Miami Valley only to find out that it had been a former meth lab. Ohio has no disclosure laws, but even if it had, many homeowners are not honestly answering that question on the real estate form.
- March 1, 2011 – Colorado Springs, CO – According to the State of Colorado, nearly 400 homes in Colorado Springs, El Paso and Teller counties remain unclean. That is just between 2001 and 2010. The meth disclosure law states that a seller must tell a buyer if a property was once a meth lab, but it references nothing about renters.
- June 10, 2010 – Cannon Falls, Minnesota – A couple unknowingly purchased a former meth lab home, unable to pay for decontamination, mortgage and rent to live somewhere else, the home was sold in a Sheriff’s sale.
- April 28, 2010 – Salt Lake City, Utah – Family purchases home and a few days after they moved in a neighbor welcomed them with disturbing news, “Your house used to be a meth lab.” This family is going into bankruptcy, as they can’t afford to clean up the house and they can’t sell it.
You are Just a Meth Test Kit Away from Knowing the History of Your Home
Many of the above actual stories of families’ unknowingly purchasing meth homes are surreal. While most average families can’t afford to hire a meth lab cleanup consultant or industrial hygienist to test a property for meth, there is a reliable in-home meth test kit that would accurately provide the important yes or no answer of methamphetamine contamination prior to purchase. Unfortunately, the home inspectors that everyone pays several hundreds of dollars for does not include testing the property for methamphetamine contamination. There is no building inspection let alone meth testing for rental property either. Before you make a major purchase, before you sign a one year lease agreement, the most important decision you can make is to test the property for meth. In comparison, the price of a meth test kit to a major purchase is mere petty cash.
Meth Test Kits
There are a variety of meth test kits on the market. Unfortunately, many of the instant meth test kits are sensitive and do not provide accurate results. Many are known to return false positive or negative readings. If you hire a professional meth lab cleanup contractor or Industrial Hygienist as required by most state guidelines, they use wipe samples wetted with alcohol or methanol prior to wiping the surface and are sent to a professional lab for analysis. Donetta Held, CEO of Crisis Cleaning, which is a premier biohazard decontamination company, is making the same test kits we use now available to the general public. Each kit comes with four (4) square cotton swabs pre-wetted with alcohol, one testing jar, four 100 square centimeter testing templates, two pairs of gloves and complete step-by-step instructions. Once you open up the four pre-wetted alcohol swabs and you wipe four different surface areas in your property, you place them inside the testing jar and mail it overnight to the independent lab in the USA at the address enclosed with the instructions. The professional lab will take your samples and not only give you a positive or negative reading, but will also tell you the level of any positive readings. The price of the meth test kit already includes the lab fee for analyzing the swabs for methamphetamine residue. You will receive a copy of the lab results by email within 48-72 hours of the lab receiving the test jars. Crisis Cleaning has had several different groups of people order our meth test kits, such as realtors, bankers, landlords and new property owners wanting to find out if their property is contaminated with meth.
Summarily, it is best to be prepared and test your new home BEFORE you buy. If through circumstances beyond your control, you find yourself with a meth contaminated property, the first of its kind book, The Meth Solution written by Donetta Held of Crisis Cleaning will lead you step-by-step through the decontamination process.