Because meth can contaminate the environment where it's produced and even where it's smoked, state health officials hope to educate consumers on what to look for and how to rehabilitate contaminated housing and property.
The vapor created when meth is cooked or smoked can be deposited on walls, floors and furnishings, creating a public health concern.
Anyone can request "Meth and Your Property," a brochure series to provide guidance and tools to clean up meth contaminations. Different versions are designed for those affected in different ways: property owners, buyers, sellers, renters and landlords.
Because meth has been and continues to be so popular, a surprising number of houses may be contaminated, according to Shalece Kofford, Meth Initiative Program coordinator in the Utah Department of Health, which came up with the brochures.
Topics range from determining whether a property is contaminated to figuring out what to do about cleanup.
Signs of meth contamination in property can include discoloration, such as staining on tubs and sinks, typically yellow or brown since it's the iodine that stains. Burn marks or chemical odors can be indicative. And vegetation doesn't grow around the house if hazardous waste has been buried or discarded outside, so that could be another indicator, she said. "Cooks" don't dispose of meth properly.
She says the brochures recommend questions you can ask if you're thinking of buying or renting or, for landlords, to try to avoid having meth cooks as your new tenants. How long have you lived in the home? a buyer should ask. And is it on the local health department's contamination list?
That's something every potential buyer or renter should check for themselves. Each local health department keeps a list, and if a house is deemed contaminated, it's listed until it's properly decontaminated. But it's up to the buyer/renter to consult the list. And it's not exhaustive. If the contamination hasn't been discovered, it won't be on the list.
Questions should be asked if a house is deeply discounted, Kofford said.
The brochures don't detail the decontamination process but note where to get help, starting with how to get testing and where to begin if it's positive for meth.
You can hire a certified decontamination specialist to do the work or walk you through the process of cleaning it up yourself. Afterward, it has to be tested by a certified expert. There are currently 26 on the list statewide, Kofford said.For information or to get a brochure, call your local health department or Kofford at 538-6191 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.