After Falling Ill, Family Learns New House Was a Meth Lab

Experts say the contamination should be treated similarly to lead, asbestos
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2017 2:58 PM CST
After Falling Ill, Family Learns New House Was a Meth Lab
The problem is widespread. Here, a Knox County Sheriff's deputy works the scene of a residential methamphetamine lab Monday, June 16, 2014, where three young girls were decontaminated and taken to a hospital for possible meth exposure. The was lab allegedly run by their mother and her boyfriend.   (AP Photo, Michael Patrick/Knoxville News Sentinel)

There's a reason people cleaning up former meth labs only enter in head-to-toe protection: the environments are extremely toxic, and drug residues can linger on porous and non-porous surfaces alike for months and even years. That's according to a case study published in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that discusses one family in Australia that didn't learn they'd moved into a former meth house until all family members began to suffer. Symptoms ranged from persistent coughing and watery eyes to weight loss, memory problems, high energy, and difficulty sleeping.

After months of testing in 2014 revealed high levels of meth residue, as Live Science reports, the family vacated their $500,000 dream home, which ultimately may have to be demolished. Australian officials call the meth problem there so pervasive it's become an epidemic. Last year alone, police broke up hundreds of clandestine meth labs, where chemicals that include drain cleaner and acetone make for an especially toxic mix. "There’s no way I’d buy a house or rent a house in Australia without testing for meth first," the owner of a company that cleans up former meth labs tells Australia Women's Weekly. He says his business is booming, and that he's already decontaminated more than 80 former meth labs. (Police happened upon an active meth lab in a sewer below Wal-mart.)

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