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April 4, 2009

Was your residence a former meth lab?

Lack of oversight could put renters and homebuyers at risk

Claremore — Meth lab explosions and drug busts make headlines, but even after arrests are made and labs dismantled, homes where methamphetamine was produced are still dangerously toxic. Previous homeowners must contract with Hazmat certified companies to remediate. Materials removed from meth labs go to special dump sites.

“Meth is the worst thing that’s ever happened to the state of Oklahoma,” said Jerry Harris, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics Training Officer. “It’s an epidemic that just never goes away.”

“There are no social boundaries with meth,” said Darrin Hester, former investigator for the Rogers County Sheriff’s Office . “Meth and domestic violence are two things that know no social boundaries.”

The manufacture of meth puts a wide range of children, neighbors and others at risk.

“The chemicals used to produce methamphetamine are very acidic and about eight out of 10 items used are carcinogens and will dissolve into any porous material,” said Hester . “When we talk about remediation it has to be beyond just changing the carpet. Anything that’s porous would have to be removed, including ventilation.”

Hester said air conditioning systems can actually recycle toxins through a house is not properly remediated.

“It’s real expensive,” said Hester. “When you talk about having to hire a special company to remediate a home, you’re talking thousands of dollars.”

Realtors who know a home or apartment was the former site of a meth lab must disclose that fact to potential buyers or renters, said Hester, but real estate professionals don’t always know. Owners who can’t afford or don’t want to spend the money on remediation may not to disclose that fact.

Hester said neighbors will often tell a new homeowner about a lab. Anyone who’s suspicious about a residence can call local law enforcement agencies. Those agencies will know if there was a meth lab on the property.

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