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USA - My home was a former meth lab

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous' started by Rob Cypher, Feb 12, 2013.

  1. Rob Cypher

    Rob Cypher Newbie

    Reputation Points:
    May 30, 2010
    Male from U.S.A.
    Call it crystal, crank, or ice, you don't want to live in a house where methamphetamine was cooked up.

    Many Americans, however, unwittingly purchase homes or rent apartments contaminated with the drug's poisonous residue.

    There have been nearly 84,000 meth lab seizures since 2004, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. But only a fraction of meth labs, as few as 5%, get discovered by authorities, according to Mark Woodward, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control. "Millions of people live in properties that were used as meth labs," said Joseph Mazzuca, who co-founded Meth Lab Cleanup in Athol, Idaho, with his wife, Julie. Last year, his company booked more than 1,500 jobs inspecting and decontaminating homes.

    Jonathan Hankins, age 32, thought he and his wife Beth got a terrific deal last June on a starter home in Klamath Falls, Ore. They paid just $36,000 for a two-bedroom fixer-upper that had been repossessed in a foreclosure. "We only lived there three weeks," said Hankins. "We started to experience symptoms." They got dry mouth, headaches and nosebleeds. Their two-year-old son Ezra got mouth sores so severe he couldn't drink.

    After neighbors told Hankins the house had been a meth lab, he bought a test kit for $50. It showed meth residue at about 80 times the state's legal limit for acceptable levels of meth residue in a home after it has been cleaned.

    The family moved out and the health problems cleared up after a few weeks. But their financial problems persisted. The couple is still paying the mortgage on the house and rent on a new one and they lost furniture and other belongings that became contaminated.

    Hankins' lawyer told him to walk away from the mortgage, but he doesn't want to ruin his credit. Even if they pay to clean up the house, it would be difficult to recoup any money by selling it.

    Straightforward decontamination jobs can cost $5,000 to $10,000, according to Mazzuca. Surfaces must be rinsed with special detergents, rooms stripped of carpeting and other materials and meth residue must be sucked off of walls and other hidden surfaces.

    Hankins is petitioning mortgage giant Freddie Mac (FMCC, Fortune 500), which sold him his home, to test all homes it sells for meth contamination, and he is speaking with the company about covering his costs.

    A Freddie spokesman, Brad German, said the company did not know the Hankins' home was contaminated. He said Freddie relies on local real estate agents to follow all state disclosure laws. "We encourage buyers to do any test they want," said German. "Hankins didn't test and bought the house as-is."

    Meth labs can turn up anywhere. Last year, one was found in a building of million-dollar-plus apartments on Manhattan's West Side. But the root of the problem lies in America's heartland. In states like Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma, thousands of meth labs are discovered each year.

    Two years ago, Craig Lowther, a real estate attorney and investor in Springfield, Mo., discovered that a tenant had turned one of his homes into a meth lab. "A young woman I was renting a house to let her father and brother live there and they were cooking meth in the basement," he said.

    After cops busted the place, Lowther evicted everyone. But before he could rent out the property again, he had to clean all the interior surfaces and pull out the carpets and other materials. All the walls had to be repainted. It cost him nearly $2,000. He now does thorough background checks on all of his tenants.

    Making crystal involves a witch's brew of ordinary household products like acetone, acids, brake cleaner, drain cleaner, iodine and paint thinner, which are all used to cook cold medicine containing the now highly-regulated ingredient, pseudoephedrine, into meth.

    For every pound of meth produced, five to seven pounds of chemical waste is left behind. Meth molecules can cling to walls and floors, accumulate in carpets and cabinets and penetrate materials like insulation and drywall, according to Glenn Morrison, an associate professor of environmental engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology. And they can be re-emitted for months or even years.

    Short-term exposure to these chemicals can lead to headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue. Over a long period, liver and kidney damage, neurological problems, and increased risk of cancer can occur, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

    Adam Spencer rented an apartment in West Jordan, Utah, in 2006, just before getting married. Just weeks after he and his now-wife Rachel moved in, the two started to experience memory loss, headaches and breathing problems. They paid $1,000 to get the place tested, and high levels of meth were found.

    "We had brand new beds, a washer dryer. We lost everything, even the clothes off our back," said Spencer. They also had medical bills and moving costs. The whole ordeal cost them more than $5,000.

    The couple has since bought their own home. "We made sure that it was brand new," said Spencer.

  2. Mick Mouse

    Mick Mouse Palladium Member

    Reputation Points:
    Jul 8, 2006
    54 y/o Male from Colorado, U.S.A.
    Good article, but it has the typical propaganda and scare tactics we have come to expect. I have a friend who is in the remediation business and does this stuff for a living, and he has told me that they routinely over-state the results of their "tests" in order to pad the bill. Like he says, who is going to know?

    And I would think that leaving all of your possessions behind is foolish, at best! Clothes can be washed, furniture and appliances can be hosed off, etc. In my opinion, leaving all of your shit behind is the mark of someone who has bought into all of the hysteria and did not think for themselves or do any research at all. Which is not to say that all such circumstances will be the same! It is just that whenever I read an article like this, I wish I was there to offer to haul away all of that brand new "contaminated" possessions!
  3. litetalk

    litetalk Newbie

    Reputation Points:
    Feb 6, 2013
    Female from U.S.A.
    Thanks for the Info, I never gave this subject any thought. This is one post that may save alot of people from going through some devastating physical events!!!
  4. RoboCodeine7610

    RoboCodeine7610 Silver Member

    Reputation Points:
    May 30, 2008
    Male from spain
    I don't get it."Meth residue" caused sores, headaches and nosebleeds weeks if not months after the last batch was cooked??What kind of precursor would remain in an apartment so long and have these severe effects on people just living there? (I assume they weren't licking the floors).

    I don't see how red phosphorous, lithium, iodine, anhydrous ammonia, naptha or even phosphene gas could have stayed there for so long in sufficient amount to cause those symptoms.If they're telling the truth, and they weren't just random symptoms, I think a neighbor getting his apartment fumigated would make more sense than that.

    If not, the cooks must be going through some really tough shit right now lol.

  5. ratgirldjh

    ratgirldjh Titanium Member

    Reputation Points:
    Sep 10, 2011
    57 y/o Female from U.S.A.
    we had a property here that had a meth lab in it. when the people got busted and taken away (they also bred fighting roosters here and had a fighting ring) we had to go to the place and clean it up to get it back on the market.

    the place was horrible! i mean bottles of chemicals, trash and piles of bottles and jars and it was just terrible. i am very sensitive to chemical residue and thankfully, i didn't have to do the actual cleaning. it took 2 dump truck loads to remove all the trash they had left behind.

    some other people moved in and never had a problem with any residue but they turned out to be equally annoying tenants (tweakers too) and we ended up selling the property.

    i am very sensitive to chemicals and chemical residues and i had no problems just visiting the place - i don't know about being there long term though the people who cleaned up said it was horrible and they wore protective clothing and masks.
  6. runnerupbeautyqueen

    runnerupbeautyqueen Palladium Member

    Reputation Points:
    Jun 23, 2010
    Female from Denton, Texas (so basically Dallas)
    Apparently the house I grew up in was rumored to be used as a drug lab. This would have been in like 1993ish though and to the best of my knowledge meth wasn't really a big thing until like 2000.

    But I remember weird people showing up (now I look back and know they were on meth or crack) and they would be asking about the people who used to live there, wanting to come inside, look around, just weird shit. My parents had to call the cops on this woman who refused to leave unless we let her wander around our house for a minute.

    My parents said when they moved in the house was a disaster. The walls were spray painted with vulgar words, glue had been poured into the carpet, shit was crazy. Anyway maybe it was a crack house, maybe it was a meth lab, either way my parents got a good deal and all the kids grew up fine. If meth cooks can live in active meth labs I find it hard to believe that after the lab has been shut down or moved or whatever that just by being in the area it once occupied you would be breaking out in sores and stuff. And what about the neighbors? Were they also breaking out in sores? Hell, they were there while the meth lab was active and they seem to be okay.

    I really like how the article included the fact that one time a meth lab was found in a million dollar apartment. It's like they purposely added that just to freak out the people in million dollar homes. "Every home was once possibly a meth lab!" But what are really the odds of finding a meth lab in a million dollar apartment vs. a trailer? Why would someone buy a fancy place just to cook meth in?
  7. zerozerohero

    zerozerohero Titanium Member

    Reputation Points:
    Oct 11, 2010
    Male from earth
    With certain drying and crystalizing techniques people apply when they're careless and produce massive amounts, i can imagine a lot of meth dust may get into the air and stay on furniture, floors and walls, especially if the lab was operating for a long time. People who run meth labs, except maybe for a few exeptions, are often messy, are not keeping a clean workspace and mostly they'll have the place full with chems - this explains why so much labs go boom, this could also explain why the couple cited in the article got ill.

    On the other hand, there are a few things that bug me with this article:
    - how could the couple not smell the chemicals and the meth? i mean the chemicals in question would probably slowly react, catalysed by air moisture, dust and the use of common household products by the new owners - this should also result in uncommon odors and maybe even residue formation.

    - how hard can it be to get such a place clean? a couple of safety suits, gasmasks, gloves and glasses as well as the necesary products would never cost as much as 5 or 10 grand, ever - i mean i'd definitly attempt to do it myself and i'm confident that with the right tools and a little help from google, i'd get the place very clean in two days tops.

    - 80 times above "normal values" ? i didn't know that the problem was so widespread that some authority has numbers and values regarding meth-lab pollution levels in houses - is this a new factor entering the realty world? Anyhow, if the residue is so concentrated, the house hasn't been propperly cleaned, maybe even not at all, revealing a serious issue with the sale itself and the authorities that are supposed to regulate realty sales (city-hall for starters...) -> the lawyer should definitely not advise them to drop the mortgage and ruin their credit.
    This is quite an intriguing article and it indeed does feel biased and somewhat ill informed.
  8. Alien Sex Fiend

    Alien Sex Fiend Silver Member

    Reputation Points:
    Apr 17, 2012
    Male from Canada
    My cat knew a landlord who rented a place to a meth lab. after about a year all three junky cooks accidentally overdosed on H. it was summer. they rotted there in their meth lab for 3weeks till neighbors didn't call the landlord dude to come check on them cause of the stench. corpses melted like hot cheese to the floor. guess what? he cleaned up the living room and sold the house to newweds. that was the end of it. probably happens alot more often than you know about it
  9. Rob Cypher

    Rob Cypher Newbie

    Reputation Points:
    May 30, 2010
    Male from U.S.A.
    1993? Definitely a crack house. And those people who were wandering around your house were probably searching for crack crumbs and/or hidden bags that dealers/users forgot. Seriously.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2013
  10. BitterSweet

    BitterSweet Titanium Member

    Reputation Points:
    Aug 26, 2011
    Female from Canada
    Good article. Well I think with the cleaning aspect, people are stuck in having to outsource that job so right off the bat it is a money pit. Whether or not it is even close to a $5000 job is irrelevant since the people will be stuck paying it, or the building owner, or whoever is getting stuck with the clean up. The inflated cleanup price is just another crap deal that the people dealing with the after math get.

    I am also confused because these meth labs that were being run - do the meth heads just up and leave with all the shit behind? Even if they've been a regular tenant, the owner always does a walk through before tenants leave. Even without a meth lab, most places are left in a not so good condition, and having the apartment cleaned is usually the procedure before new tenants move in. I don't understand how this is being missed. I know the article said there was some sort of conflict where one party is saying they leave it up to the real estate agents to know everything.

    I suppose things are in decent enough shape when people buy the house or rent that there is no indication they'll be ending up with a place filled with toxic ingredients, meaning that only after health symptoms start to appear do they check into things. I was just doing some reading prior to seeing this on meth and how it is cooked, and I also read the same 80 number. What a horrible environment to live in (an active meth lab) and I feel horrible for children who get stuck in such environments... even after reading about the ingredients in meth, it seems so horribly toxic that it is hard for me to get the stereotypical meth tweaker out of my mind when I think about meth. The rotten teeth "aspect" of meth use now makes sense since I read that the mouth doesn't maintain enough saliva and this rots the teeth, so decayed teeth isn't just a scare-tactic necessarily (you know those images of before and after for meth users). I don't know what I'm getting at, just that it's a scary drink and scares the hell out of me. It's one of those drugs on my never list, or at least 'better not ever' list.

    I remember in high school some older guy brought powdered meth to our party and was snorting it and told people it was coke, since we did coke and that was a regular thing to have around, but when we found out it was meth (I didn't take a line) we were all disgusted and our opinion of him definitely went down ten notches at a super level of shady. It's always been the *gasp, nooo* drug around where I am.

    This article does remind me though of Breaking Bad, in many ways, like (spoiler alert) when Walt and Jesse start making meth in people's home while running around as professional fumigators, or when they are making meth in Jesse's basement, then he has an open house to sell the house and there is ingrained remains from when the bathtub fell through the floor because Jesse put a dead body in there along with acid, not realizing it would corrugate through the floor... then there's when Jesse buys his parent's house really cheap because he uses his lawyer to tell his parents that their home is really a former meth lab, and that they didn't report it and could get charged or some crap.

    I think when the article mentions "even in million dollar homes" it's actually a good thing because it shows that anyone can have an addiction and to be suspecting of any home; get over the stereotype that it's just the ghetto places with ghetto people who go through this.
  11. Diverboone

    Diverboone Titanium Member Donating Member

    Reputation Points:
    Apr 7, 2012
    Male from U.S.A.
    Tn Laws pertaining to this subject are so loosely construed that LE can quarantine a house with no proof of contamination. It is upon the owner to proof other wise. To make matters worse, they do not test for the chemicals that might pose a risk. The only 2 specified chemicals are lead and mercury, which are byproducts of the P2P method. I'm unaware of a P2P lab seizure in the last 20 years in Tn. Meth is the only named contaminate listed. Nor does it state l or d methamphetamine, levo methamphetamine is legal to possess and sold at most major outlets. The smoking of meth alone could cause this contamination with no connection to the manufacturer of meth.
    This is what happens when law makers rush to judgement without referring to the science involved. Junk laws that violate the 6th Amend Due Process safe guards. And leave home owners/landlords at the mercy of expensive testing and clean up if involved. Most meth cooks today do not own their on home, the majority are renters or the friends of renters.
    To my knowledge there is no research showing that mere contact with methamphetamine poses greater health risk than normal items of contact. Much less without determining whether the contamination is levo or dextro methamphetamine leaves this law fatally flawed.
    There should be some kind of test that LE should have to preforms to show proof of meth manufactor other that filing a quarantine order. The LE should be required to be trained in testing of these proterties. Just to insure the safe guards of due process.