The law enforcement aspect of locating and dismantling clandestine meth labs is just one aspect of combating the problems associated with this dangerous drug. Any location where a lab is found must be decontaminated by a contractor licensed by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management before it can be deemed fit for human habitation again. IDEM Safety Director Scott Froush says the state has strict guidelines for properties to be decontaminated.
“The local health departments are the power players. They are the boots on the ground. They will enforce the cleanup. They will prevent reuse and reoccupation of the property after it is all clean. Only after the process is all done do they file paperwork with IDEM,” said Froush.
Frousch says it’s always a good idea to check with the local health department to make sure you aren’t inadvertently buying a property where meth was made. He cautions they only have records of the locations where labs were discovered by law enforcement officials.
“I think this stuff is out there in homes and motels and businesses. People who cooked and got away with it. Nobody ever knows about it, and they leave the residue behind. I think it’s more widespread than people realize. The stuff you hear about on the news I think is only the tip of the iceberg,” said Frousch.
Frosch says all of the items inside a home where meth is manufactured, including furniture, clothing, appliances and household items, must be either professionally decontaminated or disposed of due to their exposure to meth residue. He says that’s often not the case unless a lab is busted by the police.
“Any time you’re buying anything second hand, you have this risk of having issues with the previous owners, what they did to it. That applies to everything you get at the thrift store – clothes, furniture, appliances, all the way up to cars, motor homes, boats and houses,” Froush said.
Frosch says meth residue can’t be detected with the naked eye, as it is in gas form. He says it’s especially harmful to children because their bodies are still developing.
“Chronic exposure to low levels of methamphetamine residue can have bad health effects for kids and create health problems and behavioral problems. That’s what we’re tryng to prevent. We want children to have a clean home to live and grow up in that they can be healthy in,” Froush said.
Visit http://www.in.gov/idem/4178.htm for more information about IDEM’s rules regarding meth lab cleanup.