Are you living in a meth house? - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Are you living in a meth house?

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

Here's a question no one has likely ever asked you.  Are you buying or living in a meth house?

Unfortunately the topic seems to be getting as common as "location" and "schools" when it comes to buying real estate.  People using homes as meth labs has become such an issue now anyone selling a house has to answer "were the premises used to manufacture methamphetamines".  

It's right there near "is there a dishwasher or swimming pool" but sometimes people move into these drug houses without knowing what once was inside and what's still there.  

"Any individual that would potentially come in contact with these chemicals left behind could see side effects from these chemicals which could be similar to the use of Methamphetamines," says University of Texas Health Environmental Expert Bruce Brown.

Hazardous materials crews go into these homes dressed like astronauts for a reason.  After a drug bust entire teams have to dispose of the dangerous toxic waste left behind.  So imagine if these guys didn't go in and remove all the chemicals still lingering from the manufacture or use of methamphetamines.  That means you would get all of those toxic poisons along with your new home.  

"Could be left anywhere in the house depending on where they were manufacturing or using the drug.  So any absorbent materials which could be carpets, walls are absorbent and can retain these chemicals, furniture," adds Brown.  

Brown says coming in contact with the remaining residual of the drug would be harmful for the new homeowners, including children.  "Obviously the dose would be lower but we could have similar results to someone who actually uses Methamphetamines," he says.  A pregnant woman would be at especially high risk since the chemicals could cause birth defects.  

"Certainly there is a potential if it's there in a high enough level and depending on the manufacturing process," explains Brown.

You can't tell a meth house just by looking at it but sometimes there is a smell of strong chemicals or another odor.  

"Some people have described it as (smelling like) cat urine," says Brown.  

Some of the harmful chemicals can linger in a house for some time.  

"Sometimes they (meth manufacturers) use heavy metals which are considered persistent bioaccumulative toxins.  Items such as lead or mercury will stay around for a very, very long time. Definitely years," says Brown.

You can avoid buying a "meth house" by talking to the neighbors before you buy.  Also, there is a way to test surfaces for signs of meth.  For that, you can hire an environmental home inspector.  

You can find more tips at methlabhomes.com.  The website was started after a young man says he had to spend tens of thousands of dollars to decontaminate a meth home he unknowingly bought.

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