HARRISBURG — An online federal database allows people to see whether their home or property was contaminated with toxic chemicals used to make such drugs as methamphetamine.
This database significantly undercounts the number of sites in Pennsylvania, according to data obtained by Spotlight PA.
Similar reporting discrepancies exist in neighboring states, but Pennsylvania is one of several nationwide that do not have laws or guidelines outlining how contaminated properties should be cleaned or when they are safe to live in, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Pennsylvania also does not require sellers or landlords to disclose a former drug lab or dump site to future buyers or tenants.
A free public database maintained by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration lists addresses for 51 former drug labs or dump sites in Pennsylvania from 2017 to 2021.
Most of those incidents involved meth production, but some labs may have been for other synthetic drugs.
Pennsylvania State Police, the agency that typically handles drug lab busts here, logged 923 incidents during that same time period.
In 2021 alone, State Police reported 11 times more incidents than the DEA. Like the federal data, most of these incidents — about 85% — were related to meth.
Meth lab seizures peaked nationwide in 2004 and have been decreasing over the last 17 years, but the drug is still widely available throughout the country, a 2020 DEA report shows.
The majority of recent lab busts were small operations producing only a few ounces of meth at a time.
Those incidents were concentrated in the Northeast, with such states as Pennsylvania and New York reporting some of the highest numbers of lab, dump site, and equipment seizures … READ MORE.