Is Your New Home A Former Meth Lab?

meth lab at dusk | Worker101, CC BY 2.0

“Use of methamphetamine nationally is at an all time high.” – Erik Smith, Drug Enforcement Admin., Kansas City | NPR, Oct 25, 2018

| Homebuyers, beware: Contamination from cooking meth can linger for year

Exposure to contamination has adverse health effects, especially in young children.

Ars Technica – Breaking Bad brought the messy, smelly process of cooking methamphetamine into American households with its depiction of a high school chemistry teacher who begins making the stuff after a terminal cancer diagnosis.

Walter White went from cooking meth in an RV, to a home basement, to a full-fledged underground lab run by a crime syndicate.

It’s highly likely that any place he cooked would still be contaminated years later, according to a new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research.

Researchers at Flinders University in Australia took samples from a house in rural Victoria, Australia, once used to cook meth and found the house still contained significant levels of the drug even five years after the drug operations had ended.

And that contamination had transferred over to personal possessions of the home’s new owners.

Co-author Kirstin Ross said:

“Our results demonstrate that methamphetamine has continued to mobilize after manufacture when the property was under new ownership for a period exceeding five years.

“This suggests that the methamphetamine is not breaking down or being removed and is constantly transferred from contaminated to non-contaminated objects.”

Australian police seized chemicals and cooking equipment from the house in question in May 2013.

The police notified the local council that the home had been used to cook meth and thus posed a potential health risk.

It was supposed to undergo remediation to clear any lingering contamination, but for some reason this didn’t happen.

A family of five (two adults, and children aged 7, 8, and 11 years) bought the home in August of that year, unaware of its prior history.

They didn’t find out until March 2014, and when environmental testing revealed levels of methamphetamine well above the Australian limit, the family was forced to vacate the home. Read more. 

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Meth Use in the U.S. 

“964,000 people aged 12 or older had a methamphetamine use disorder”

[It is now deemed politically incorrect to refer to meth users as “drug addicts.” – Ed.]

National Institute on Drug Abuse – According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 1.6 million people (0.6 percent of the population) reported using methamphetamine in the past year, and 774,000 (0.3 percent) reported using it in the past month. The average age of new methamphetamine users in 2016 was 23.3 years old.

An estimated 964,000 people aged 12 or older (about 0.4 percent of the population) had a methamphetamine use disorder in 2017—that is, they reported clinically significant impairment, including health problems, disability, and failure to meet responsibilities at work, school, or home as a result of their drug use.

This number is significantly higher than the 684,000 people who reported having methamphetamine use disorder in 2016.

The 2018 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey of adolescent drug use and attitudes reported that about 0.5 percent of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders had used methamphetamine within the past year. Use of methamphetamine by adolescents has declined significantly since 1999, when this drug was first added to the survey.

The Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) provides information on admissions to substance abuse treatment facilities that are licensed or certified by state substance use agencies. According to TEDS data, nationwide treatment admissions for methamphetamine misuse dropped from 68 per 100,000 individuals in 2005 to 49 per 100,000 in 2015.

An important caveat to these national numbers is the degree to which they mask regional variability.

While methamphetamine is available across the US, highest availability is in the western and midwestern regions of the US; more than 70 percent of local law enforcement agencies from the pacific and west central regions of the US report methamphetamine as the greatest drug threat in their area.

NIDA’s National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS), which tracks drug trends in sentinel sites across the country, found that treatment admissions for methamphetamine as the primary substance of use were less than one percent in sites east of the Mississippi River, but ranged from 12-29 percent in the sites west of the Mississippi.

Nationwide, overdose deaths from the category of drugs that includes methamphetamine increased by 7.5 times between 2007 and 2017.

About 15 percent of all drug overdose deaths involved the methamphetamine category in 2017, and 50 percent of those deaths also involved an opioid.

In 2017, 5 of the 12 NDEWS sites reported increases in methamphetamine overdose deaths: Washington, Colorado, Texas, Florida, and Georgia. Source.