- REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File Photo
- Elisha and Tyler Hessel bought a home in Jefferson County, Missouri, last year, and when Elisha learned she was pregnant she went in for recommended blood tests, KSDK reported.
- The blood tests showed Elisha was positive for amphetamines, and the Hessels learned the house was a former meth lab.
- Joseph Mazzuca, CEO of operations at the Meth Lab Clean Up Company told Insider that it’s not that unusual to end up in a house that was once used as a former meth lab, because nationally, only one in 10 labs is busted by police.
- On top of that, regulations vary in every state – the federal government has little to do with the cleanup of such sites, and instead regulations are put on local and state governments.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A Missouri woman learned the house she bought with her husband was previously used as a meth lab after she and her unborn baby tested positive for amphetamines – highlighting a problem that one expert says is more common than people might think.
Elisha and Tyler Hessel bought a home in Jefferson County, Missouri, last year, and when Elisha learned she was pregnant she went in for recommended blood tests, KSDK reported. The blood tests showed Elisha was positive for amphetamines.
The Hessels said they have never been around meth and had no criminal history of drug use. They then learned it was the house that was the problem.
Hessel told KSDK they asked neighbors and got hints that the home was a meth lab. “I went ahead and bought a test over the internet and tested it myself and it did come back with unsafe levels in the home,” she said.
Joseph Mazzuca, CEO of operations at the Meth Lab Clean Up Company, told Insider that it’s not that unusual to end up in a house that was once used as a former meth lab, because many fly under the radar. He said nationally, police only bust about one in 10 labs in the US. In some states, only one in 20 or 30 is busted, he said.
Meth lab decontamination and disclosure regulation varies by state and county
On top of that, regulations vary in every state – the federal government has little to do with the cleanup of such sites, and it’s up to local and state governments to regulate.
The Washington Post reported that only 23 states have state-wide regulations on drug-lab decontamination and disclosure laws on listing contaminated properties.
In Missouri, where the Hessels live, a seller is required to disclose that that methamphetamine production occurred on the property if the seller knew about it. No one told the Hessels, and it remains unclear why.
Often if a house is rented out, owners may not know what tenants are doing inside the home, Mazzuca said.
Buyers should research a home’s history before purchasing it
Mazzuca told Insider that the best thing a person can do before moving into a house is do some research on local laws and figure out who regulates the reporting of meth labs.
“The best thing people can do is find out who the governing body would be based on those regulations, and call the health department or the local department and see if they have any records. Sometimes local police departments and local sheriff’s have records,” he said.
Buyers can also check out the home’s property deeds in the county clerk’s office to see if police have registered the property.
Talking to neighbors and researching the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Clandestine Laboratory Register Data can give buyers clues into the home’s history.
When inspecting the home, buyers should look for telltale signs of meth production, like old cans, packages of acetone, drone cleaner or other chemicals, as well as rubber gloves, tubing, dust masks, camp stoves, and coolers, CNN reported.
People can also test the home themselves. Mazzuca recommended an at-home test from methlabtestkit.com.
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