Meth Lab Clean-Up Concerns In Lansing

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Whether it's on the side of the road or right next door, meth labs are becoming more and more of a problem in Mid-Michigan, and it's happening in Lansing.

Lansing City Council is concerned about what happens to the homes where meth is being made. While damage from an explosion is common, the residue and toxins that can linger can be just as dangerous to people's health. The City Council and concerned citizens want to know if the homes are safe and free of contamination.

"I would not tolerate what's going on across the street from my house if I had a family," Lansing resident Harold King said.

King said he's happy he lives alone, because he feels drugs activity is a problem throughout Lansing, especially meth.

"Meth labs are pretty prevalent," King said. "From houses down to vans on the highway."

That prevalence is due to the "one-pot" method. All it takes is basic ingredients like Sudafed and lithium batteries combined in a two-liter plastic bottle. Making meth is cheaper and easier than ever, and it also becomes portable.

"If we know that they're cooking there, what is the process for the clean up?" Lansing City Council President Carol Wood said. "How are we making sure that in the future, someone isn't renting or buying a house that's been contaminated with meth?"

The Tri-County Metro Narcotics Squad handles those situations, which are on the rise. Detective 1st Lt. Timothy Gill said the squad has discovered nearly a dozen meth labs in Lansing this past year, and that doesn't include finding the necessary materials in several different places. Cleaning it up is a top priority.

"There's a number of chemicals that are all considered hazardous materials and toxic that go into the production, so it's important that those locations get thoroughly checked out afterwards," Lt. Gill said.

The procedure includes an environmental agency and county health departments testing air, carpet, and wall samples. It's a process the Insurance Institute of Michigan is familiar with after two overnight janitors were caught making meth back in September. Their office was out of commission for almost a week.

"Pretty extensive process, they tested the whole office," President of the Insurance Institute of Michigan Peter Kuhnmuench said.

He said he was pleased with the health department's help, and it's been business as usual for the most part ever since.

"We're on alert for future instances, so we'll know what to look for next time," Kuhnmuench said.

The health department doesn't test every home in which they find meth.

Lt. Gill said the squad needs to find evidence of meth being manufactured at some point in order to involve an environmental agency. So, there is a slight chance a house could go undetected, but Lt. Gill said that risk is very minimal.

The Tri-County Metro Narcotics squad wants to train more Lansing Police officers to handle meth lab situations. Michigan State Police will be going through a refresher course for meth lab protocol soon.

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