Former Meth Labs a Nightmare for Homebuyers

iStock_000014367890SmallThe housing crisis of the late 2000’s resulted in thousands of abandoned homes, which in turn created opportunities for drug dealers and user, resulting in a patchwork of methamphetamine labs around the country.

A dangerous, addictive controlled substance, meth can be smoked, snorted or injected, and is growing in popularity in the United States. The chemicals required to make meth are so inexpensive and easy to find that many users and dealers just make it illegally in their own homes, rentals or abandoned properties. The ingredients and by-products involve dangerous chemicals and substances like ether, acetone, iodine crystal, sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide.

The Hankins family from Klamath Falls, Oregon, started experiencing health problems within days of moving into their new home. The mother had trouble breathing, the father had migraines and nosebleeds, and their young son developed mouth sores. When neighbors told them that meth addicts had previously occupied the house, the family ordered a $50 testing kit and the results revealed contamination levels nearly 80 times over Oregon Health Authority limits. The kit was cheap, but the results proved devastating and could have been prevented.

A home contaminated by meth production has few visible signs, but many severe risks. Above and beyond the actual manufacturing, even just the smoking of the drug in a home leaves behind poisonous chemicals that saturate walls, floors, carpets and ceilings, and can contaminate the ventilation and plumbing. For each pound of meth that gets “cooked,” five to six pounds of waste is left behind, including mercury, lead, iodine and other poisonous solvents.

According to statistics from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), 10,287 meth labs were seized across the country in 2011 alone. Many of these homes were returned to the housing market with a fresh coat of paint and new carpeting to hide the toxic past.

Many states now have disclosure laws as well as stringent regulations for former meth labs. Potential homebuyers need to do their homework before purchasing a property, especially homes that have been rented or long periods, foreclosed on or banked-owned.

Though you probably can’t see that the home you’re thinking about buying was once a meth lab, there have been so many incidents that’s it’s not worth taking a chance. It’s a critical data point that shouldn’t be ignored before putting money down on most properties.

Sources: Fox News Yahoo! News