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What property owners need to know about METH labs in homes.
On March 23, 2007 Title 318 of the Indiana Administrative Code Article 1 came into effect. This code requires clean up of illegal or Clandestine labs to include Meth Labs(methamphetamine).
What does the rule do?
- Requires the property owner to clean up a contaminated property (Former Meth Lab) before reoccupying or selling the property. A qualified inspector must be hired for decontamination.
- Provides criteria to be a qualified inspector, for sampling and decontamination
Why does a Meth Lab have to be cleaned up?
- Illegal drug labs are extremely hazardous to occupants and neighbors. A wide variety of hazardous materials including flammable solvents, acids, strong caustics, combustible metals and anhydrous ammonia are used.
- Some of the initial ingredients can be household items, however even these items can be hazardous. When chemicals are mixed and used improperly they can be even more dangerous.
- Residual contamination remains because the hazardous chemicals used to manufacture the drugs soak into porous materials such as walls, floors, cabinets furniture and personal items.
- The contamination is from contact with chemicals and the associated vapors. The vapors soak into almost any non metal or porous item and contaminate the surface of metals and non metals alike.
Health effects include:
- Respiratory (breathing) problems, pulmonary edema
- Skin and eye irritation, double vision
- Paraesthesia - abnormal sensations like prickling and itching
- Headaches, Nausea and dizziness
- Chemical irritation and burns
- Long-term effects are not known, but can include neurological and breathing problems.
How the process works:
- Police identify a location as a Methamphetamine Lab.
- Indiana State Police (ISP) response team removes bulk chemicals and drug making paraphernalia and posts a sticker that the property has been a lab.
- ISP issues an occurrence report to the local health department.
- Elkhart County Health Department issues and posts an Unfit for Human Habitation order.
- The property owner is responsible for clean up.
- Property may be demolished or decontaminated with a Certificate of Decontamination issued by a qualified inspector.
- Unfit for Human Habitation order lifted by the Health Department if all of the rule conditions are met.
Items of Interest:
- DO NOT enter the home once it has been identified as a lab. Contact the Health Department or a qualified inspector first.
- Even one "Cook" (or process of making Meth) will render a property contaminated.
- Public safety personnel who enter illegal drug labs wear personal protective equipment: full-face respirators and chemical resistant gloves, boots and coveralls. Even with this equipment, responders can sometimes be injured.
- Properties can only be decontaminated under direction of a "Qualified Inspector" as defined by 318 IAC. Currently about ten companies have Qualified Inspectors.
- An initial assessment will need to be done, the clean up and then the assessment for the Certificate of Decontamination.
- Yes, this is expensive. The cost varies greatly based on the site, but can be $10,000 to $25,000.
- IDEM website http://www.in.gov/idem/4178.htm