By Melissa Dittmann Tracey
The New York Times ran an article this week ("Illnesses Afflict Homes With a Criminal Past" by Shaila Dewan and Robbie Brown) that details a story about a family who moved into a spacious home in Winchester, Tenn., only to soon start battling years of illness -- from breathing problems to seizures and migraines to kidney problems.
Their home was making them sick.
Five years after moving into the home, the family discovered the home had once been used as a meth lab.
And apparently these contaminated residences are not all that uncommon. What's more, some may even be hitting your local market.
"Federal statistics show that the number of clandestine meth labs discovered in the United States rose by 14 percent last year, to 6,783, and has continued to increase," the New York Times reports.
View a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration map of meth lab incidents by state to see how prevalent it is in your area: http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/concern/map_lab_seizures.html
Chemist Lynn Riemer Of The North Metro Drug Task Force provides the following list of signs a meth lab may have been present in a home:
1. Yellow discoloration on walls, drains, sinks and showers.
2. Blue discoloration on valves of propane tanks and fire extinguishers.
3. Fire detectors that are removed--or taped off.
4. Burning in your eyes, itchy throat, a metallic taste in your mouth, or breathing problems when in the home.
5. Strong odors that smell similar to materials often found in a garage, such as solvent and paint thinner, or odors of cat urine or ammonia.
About 20 states have passed laws that require meth contamination cleanup. Cleanup can be costly, though. The family described in The New York Times article would need $30,000 or more to get the necessary cleanup, and that amount doesn't even take into account their medical bills from living in a contaminated house for so long.
Have you ever come across a house you suspected was once used as a meth lab?