There are countless horror stories from homeowners who move into their previously lived-in homes, only to discover something foul lurking in their walls. But besides mold, asbestos or infestations of some sort, there’s another factor new homeowners should check into before purchasing a home – meth labs.
Drug task force authorities across the country are urging new homeowners to check into the drug history of the previous homeowners or tenants, because the residual effects of drugs within a home – especially the chemical deposits from the manufacturing of methamphetamines – can linger for years and cause major health problems for the home’s new occupants.
And the risks of purchasing a home that was once a meth lab may be more common than you think.
In Klamath Falls, Ore., the Hankins family purchased a foreclosed home for just $36,000. The young couple with a two-year-old boy thought the home just needed a little fixing up. But, according to Yahoo! News, they soon began experiencing health issues like breathing problems, migraines, nosebleeds, and the baby developed mouth sores.
It was later discovered that the home had once housed a meth lab. The foreclosure home the couple thought they purchased for a steal now would cost them thousands of dollars to rid the home of its harmful contaminants.
In 2011, 10,287 meth lab incidents were reported across the nation— up 39 percent from 2008. There were also an estimated 2.5 million meth-contaminated homes in the U.S. Twenty-three states, including California, have disclosure laws and sellers must inform the buyer or renter if the home was ever used as a clandestine drug lab. But with number of foreclosed, bank-owned homes on the market needing to be sold quickly, some sellers may not be so forthcoming.
But potential homeowners can do their own research. The DEA has compiled a list of known locations that once housed clandestine drug labs. Several locations in the San Gabriel Valley, including one in Glendora, are included in the list.
Still, there may be more former meth lab locations not on the list. According to nationwide statistics, only one in 10 meth lab locations are discovered.
In the East San Gabriel Valley, specifically in the foothill cities of Glendora, Covina and San Dimas, meth remains the hard drug of choice for users. In the 90s, the San Gabriel Valley saw a rise of meth. Since then, heroin and cocaine has taken over in popularity in most cities in the area, but meth has remained the hard drug of choice in Glendora, said Glendora Detective Joey Gutierrez.
“Most crime occurring in Glendora – whether it’s property theft or burglaries – it’s stemming from someone trying to feed their drug addiction,” said Gutierrez. “Most of the time, it’s meth.”
Gutierrez said most of the meth in Glendora is transported from Mexico where large factories are churning out thousands of pounds of cheap meth a year. But it’s not uncommon for someone to manufacture their own meth on a smaller scale in their home, using common materials that can be purchased at hardware stores and supermarkets, said Gutierrez.
Even these smaller labs, or box labs, can be potentially dangerous.
“It may be a small amount of meth, but it’s working with volatile and flammable chemicals,” said Gutierrez. He said there is still a high risk of fire and the chemicals depositing in the room over time.
Gutierrez offered these tips for potential homeowners:
2. Contact the local police department to look into the drug history of the previous tenants.
3. Talk to neighbors.
“The chemicals from these drugs are like a mildew,” said Gutierrez. “You don’t see it unless you go looking for it.”
Gutierrez said he would think twice before purchasing a home with a checkered drug past. “I would stay away from it,” he said.