According to some reports, there were approximately 7,531 cases throughout the United States where methamphetamine labs, equipment, and dump sites were found. Many of these places were residential homes, apartments, and hotels. Unfortunately, due to insufficient reporting laws in many areas, people are not adequately informed that their living spaces may be contaminated with meth residue—something that can cause serious illness. Here's how to identify whether your home is contaminated with meth residue and what you can do about it.
Signs Your Home is Contaminated
It doesn't matter if the home was used to manufacture meth or the person who lived in it was simply a user. When methamphetamine is burned, the vapors attach to any and all surfaces and turn into crystals after short period of time. These crystals can be absorbed into the skin when touched and the lungs when inhaled. People who live in meth-contaminated homes will quickly begin exhibiting symptoms such as:
- Severe and/or chronic headaches
- Difficulty breathing, chronic sinus problems
- Chronic lung diseases such as colds
- Dry mouth and mouth sores
- Gastrointestinal distress such as vomiting and diarrhea
- Appetite loss
- Mental disorders such as the inability to concentrate, anxiety, and paranoia
Pets and children are most susceptible to meth poisoning. This is because carpets are one major source of meth residue, and children and pets are more likely to walk around barefoot (or bare paw) on these surfaces.
Getting Rid of the Risk
Confirming whether or not you have a "sick" house is a fairly straightforward process. There are companies that specialize in testing homes for meth residue. You can also purchase at-home kits that will tell you if meth residue is present. Be certain to test every part of the home, including-- and especially-- the ducts.
The vapors from meth use and production travel all over the home and can get sucked into the ducts through the registers. Each time the air conditioning or heating is turned on the crystallized meth particles are blasted into the air. Even if you get extremely low numbers or no readings in other parts of the home, you'll definitely want to check the ducts to ensure an unpleasant surprise is not waiting for you there.
Studies conducted on this issue indicate that 3.0ug or more of residue can be absorbed, so you may be safe if test results are significantly lower than this. However, each state has its own regulations stating what is considered an acceptable level. It's best to contact your local housing government for more information about this.
If meth residue is detected, everything that was in the home when the drug was being manufactured or used will need to either be cleaned or thrown out. You'll need to have the ducts in your home sanitized by a professional HVAC company trained in dealing with hazardous materials.
Even if you sterilize every corner in your home, you risk recontamination if you don't get the ducts scrubbed, too. As noted previously, the crystals residing in the ducts will likely be redistributed throughout the home the moment you turn on the HVAC unit, putting you back in the same situation you were in before you had your home cleaned.
For more information about clearing out contaminated ducts, contact a knowledgeable HVAC contractor like one from R & B Heating & Air Conditioning near you.