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 Utah Among Top States For Meth Home Labs

Don't put your family at risk, let A-PRO test your potential investment for METH before you buy.

Utah is a popular location for methamphetamine drug labs. No one knows why. But the state recently received the dubious distinction of having the most meth labs per capita in the United States. In 1990 the DEA raided five labs along the Wasatch Front. This year (1999) an agent with DEA figures they'll raid nearly 300 in the Salt Lake Valley.


Salt Lake City Utah: Meth Lab Homes

KSL TV 5 reported in May 2007, that there are more than 250 homes in the Salt Lake area alone that were once used as meth labs. They decided to ask the people living inside them now, if they knew that they were living in a meth lab.

“Did you know in 2002 this was a meth lab?” we asked one homeowner. She didn’t know. Salt Lake resident Katie Pratt said, “I’m really surprised. I’m shocked right now.” She says she would’ve run from the deal. Another Salt Lake County resident, Jamie Alkinani, said, “We had no idea when we bought it.”

Their investigation also reveals that even if a house is declared cleaned by the county, that may not be the truth. You may only discover that you are living in a former meth lab when you start having health issues that you may pass off as a common headache or the common cold.

“We started out investigating Utah’s lax disclosure laws on meth homes. Once a contaminated home’s been certified as clean, no one has to say a thing about it. But then we discovered that in some of those so-called clean homes, residents were complaining about headaches, coughs, and other symptoms.”

You can read the complete story on KSL.com.



Buyer beware of toxic meth-lab homes

By Kavan Peterson, Stateline.org Staff Writer

Health officials in a handful of states are warning home-buyers and renters to check an online database of busted "meth houses" to make sure they don't move into a contaminated former drug lab.

Idaho is the latest state to start listing properties where methamphetamine drug labs have been found in an online database for potential buyers and renters. Seven homes have been listed since the database was launched in April, and similar online registries in neighboring Alaska, Michigan, Montana, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington list hundreds of homes, motel rooms and even automobiles that have been used to cook methamphetamine in recent years.

"We're trying to protect families and children by allowing the public to look on our Web site before they rent or buy a house to see if it's ever been busted as a meth house," said Kara Stevens, manager of Idaho's Environmental Health and Injury Prevention Program, which administers the state's Clandestine Drug Lab Cleanup Program.

Along with bulging prison populations and a marked increase in drug-rehabilitation and child-welfare services caused by the nation's meth problem, states have struggled with the cleanup costs and health hazards of former meth labs. Thousands of clandestine drug laboratories, largely mom-and-pop operations in private dwellings, have been set up all over the country to cook the highly addictive drug, also known as crystal meth, ice, glass and crank. 

Known for its high rate of addiction and severe side effects, which include rotten teeth and increased risk of heart, lung and liver disease, meth easily can be made with over-the-counter cold medication, household chemicals and a hot plate or burner. Every pound of meth cooked results in up to five to seven pounds of toxic chemical wastes that pose serious health and environmental hazards, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

States have taken a lead roll in combating domestic meth production. Forty-two states have imposed restrictions on sales of cold medication containing pseudoephedrine, a key meth ingredient, and Congress imposed similar restrictions nationwide that went into effect Oct. 1. A handful of states, including Illinois, Montana and Tennessee, also have begun listing convicted meth makers on Internet databases, similar to registries that list sexual predators. 

The DEA reported seizures of 16,813 methamphetamine laboratories in 2005, up from 9,747 in 2004. There are no federal regulations for cleaning up meth labs, and unknown numbers of families unwittingly move into houses where meth was concocted, state health officials said.

Scientifically, there are no studies yet proving a link between living in a former meth lab and specific health problems. But the cooking process releases a cloud of toxic chemicals, including hydrochloric acid, phosphorous, iodine and methamphetamine itself, that seeps into floors and walls and can potentially cause long-term health problems, said Shawn Arbuckle, an industrial hygiene program coordinator at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver, which has conducted several studies on the impact of meth labs. 

Potential health problems range from headaches and blisters to damaged lungs, liver and kidneys. Children are especially sensitive to chemical exposure, which can damage their developing brains, Arbuckle said.

"You know that youngsters still crawling around on hands and knees put everything in their mouth, so they're especially at risk of picking up methamphetamine residues," he said. 

It's illegal in 12 states (Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington) for anyone to live in a former meth house before it's been decontaminated, according to the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws, a congressionally funded nonprofit that helps states set drug laws.

But in most other states, there are few protections to warn home-buyers or renters whether they're moving into a former meth house. Only 14 states (Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota and Washington) require property owners to disclose former drug production to potential buyers or tenants. And only 13 states (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah and Washington) have established guidelines for cleaning up former meth labs. 

Colorado was the first state to do toxicology studies attempting to measure contamination caused by meth production and to determine how much cleaning is required to make a home safe to live in. The state estimates cleanup costs of $15,000 to $30,000 to decontaminate a 2,000-square-foot house.


Meth Lab home clues that you should know

November 30, 2007

Meth labs can be set up just about anywhere. They’ve been found in cars, trailers, homes, hotel rooms, just about anywhere the meth cook can find a heat source. When you’re shopping for a new home or looking for a new apartment, be on the alert for signs of a meth lab. Here are some signs that you should look for:
  • Smells similar to fingernail polish, cat urine, or ammonia
  • Propane tanks with blued fittings
  • Trash that contains packages of cold medicines containing cold medicines containing ephedrine / pseudoephedrine, drain cleaner and antifreeze bottles, denatured alcohol, coffee filters stained red, lantern fuel. Bottles or jars with glass tubing
  • Rust colored stains on kitchen, bath fixtures, rugs, or floors.
  • Stained soil or dead vegetation.
  • Bottles or jars with glass tubing.




Buyer Beware!

The meth lab problem in the U.S. is far from being under control, in spite of efforts being made by the government. In my opinion, now that the price of meth has gone up so high, the number of homes and apartments that get used as labs where meth is made will also increase. Buyer and renter, beware. Be very aware.



Utah among top states for meth use

Local residents forced to move from contaminated homes until cleared of methamphetamine

By: Ranae Bangerter

Issue date: 2/16/07

Dwellings are tested by wiping surfaces in the home and then taking them to the lab for analysis of the level of contamination, said Randy Wilde, an environmental health scientist.

"When the tests come back, the reading on the homes are normally non-detect."

Before decontamination, home testing levels vary from one microgram, and the majority comes back to two to seven micrograms per 100 square centimeters, "which is substantially higher than what the state standard is," Wilde said.

Martinez has since found contractors in Idaho to help him clean out the house.

Homes can be decontaminated having the owner contract with a state-certified decontamination specialist. The decontamination specialists go through a procedure to try to chemically change the meth, Wilde said.

Martinez said this is strange to happen in Utah of all places because he has been to six different cities around the world in the past six years.

"The strange thing is, all these places I've been, never once have I had a problem with any kind of health-related issue to where I couldn't live in a facility. I've been to different countries, different states, and it just seems like the problems are here," he said.

Nine dwellings are currently closed from Box Elder County to Cache County, and more than 22 dwellings have closed in the past, Wilde said.

Methamphetamine causes inhalation symptoms such as coughing, irritation to throat and nose and some links to chemical pneumonia, Wilde said. There can also be neurological symptoms such as headache or nausea while others have no immediate symptoms, he said.

"Because science has not been tracking methamphetamine for the past 20 years, long-term health defects are hard to tell," Wilde added. "We're hopeful it's nothing, but because you don't know, you air on the side of caution."

If people are concerned that their apartment or home may be contaminated they can call the Health Department and for $150.00 they can get their home tested.

An emerging trend is to have people test homes before buying real estate.

"We're getting a lot of requests from potential renters potential buyers of real estate even some loan officers and appraisers are showing interest in having homes tested prior to real estate transactions," Wilde said.


Meth tests of homes on rise, but state program draws fire

A Cedar City couple's young daughter became seriously ill after ingesting something off the carpet in their new apartment.

Doctors at the hospital determined it was methamphetamine. The state Division of Child and Family Services responded to take the child. The police department launched an investigation into the couple. The health department inspected the dwelling.

Ultimately, officials determined the apartment's previous occupants had left meth residue behind.

A meth test could have prevented that child from becoming ill, said Mike Rowzee, owner of Certified Decontamination in West Jordan, who was called to clean the apartment.

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