Cleaning Up After Meth

By: Meaghan M. Norman Email
By: Meaghan M. Norman Email

LANSING ----- Narcotics officers in Jackson said it was fortunate that the mobile meth lab they found did not explode like some houses have in the area. But they say, with the amount of chemicals in the trunk, an explosion could have happened. While the car sits impounded, authorities have to decide if it's safe to save it.

"A lot [of things] have to be discarded because they're so contaminated," said James McCurtis, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Community Health.

The state tri county narcotics team says if the car is not destroyed, the cleaning process will have to be extensive. The process is even more tedious when a home is involved.

"A lot of appliances, stoves, countertops, these may be able to be saved with intense cleaning, scrubbing or with hot water," said McCurtis. "But carpets, chairs, sofas; upholstery like that can trap the contaminants."

And the burden, financially, of the cleanup ultimately falls on the homeowner.

"A contractor should be called and do all the cleaning. They have the best judgment in terms of which materials to get rid of," said McCurtis.

If you suspect your neighbor has a meth lab, McCurtis says your risk of exposure to the contaminants can be relatively low.

"If you live next door you shouldn't be at a high risk because the chemicals do dissipate."

Two years ago, there was a plan in place and funding for health departments to monitor the cleanup but with the funding gone, maintenance and the accountability is no longer there.

"We used to keep data checks making sure homes are cleaned properly, data of how many meth labs are in an area," said McCurtis. "If the new legislature finds the dollars and provides funding, we'll pick up where the program left off."

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