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.
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
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
Buyer beware of toxic meth-lab
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,
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
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
"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
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