Properties where meth labs are discovered must be professionally decontaminated by a state-licensed contractor before they can be deemed fit for human habitation again. Local enforcement of that law falls to county health officials, who work closely with law enforcement to keep tabs on arrest records and make sure properties are cleaned up. Joe Mazuka, the operations manager for Meth Lab Cleanup Company, says the toxic waste can linger indefinitely if it’s not addressed.
“It doesn’t go away. A lot of people think meth has a half-life or something. It does not,” said Mazuka.
Generally law enforcement officials only bust about 10-percent of meth labs, and cooks tend to be extremely transient. Mazuka says this can be problematic for homebuyers. One of his clients in another state unknowingly bought a house from someone who purchased it from the bank after the owners went to prison for manufacturing meth. He got a frantic telephone call after they learned – seven years after their purchase – about the home’s history.
“Two remodels, two paint jobs and 14 years later, and it still tested 170 times over the legal limit on the average throughout the structure. Methamphetamine does not go away. It doesn’t break down, it’s very resilient. It’s almost impossible to neutralize or oxidize without destroying,” said Mazuka.
More information about Indiana’s requirements for the cleanup of illegal drug labs can be found on the IDEM website at http://www.in.gov/idem/4178.htm