Most people think of "Breaking Bad," a television show about a man who runs a meth lab out of his trailer, as mere entertainment. But a recent article by CNNMoney suggests this may be more realistic and sadly more common than many think.
For potential homebuyers, there are a number of things to consider when buying a home. Are there cracks in the wall? Is the house next to a busy street? Are the neighbors loud? But it’s not common to ask if the house was a former meth lab.
Since 2004, nearly 84,000 meth labs have been seized, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Joseph Mazzuca, who co-founded Meth Lab Cleanup in Athol, Idaho, told CNNMoney: "Millions of people live in properties that were used as meth labs." He also says that straightforward decontamination jobs can cost $5,000 to $10,000.
CNNMoney tells a tale of a couple who purchased their first home last year, a home in which they paid only $36,000.
"We only lived there three weeks," said Hankins. "We started to experience symptoms."
Dry mouth, headaches and nosebleeds were among the symptoms experienced by the couple and their two-year-old son. After the couple’s neighbors informed them that the house used to be a meth lab, they bought a test kit for $50. The meth residue came back as 80 times the state’s legal limit for acceptable levels of meth residue post-clearing.
After the family moved out, their symptoms subsided. Unfortunately, their financial problems did not. The couple is still paying the mortgage on the house to avoid credit issues. They also are paying rent on a new home and were forced to buy new furniture as their old furniture was too contaminated to use.
The couple is currently petitioning Freddie Mac, who sold the home, to test all homes it sells for meth contamination and is speaking with the company about covering their financial deficit.
For every pound of meth produced, five to seven pounds of chemical waste is left behind, CNNMoney reported. Short-term exposure can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue. Long-term exposure can affect a person’s liver, kidney and increase the risk of cancer.
This issue is becoming an increasing problem, as meth labs continue to pop up all over the country.
To see if you live in a county with high volumes of meth labs, click on the map provided by CNNMoney below.