Families living in former meth labs may not know - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Families living in former meth labs may not know

In Jefferson County, 72 homes where methamphetamine contamination has not been cleaned up, many with people living inside. In Jefferson County, 72 homes where methamphetamine contamination has not been cleaned up, many with people living inside.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Your family could be suffering the after effects of methamphetamine use and not even know. Homes used as meth labs can be rented out to others without being decontaminated and there are gaps in state law helping to create the danger.

In Jefferson County, 72 homes where methamphetamine contamination has not been cleaned up, many with people living inside.

Five days after police arrested a man for cooking meth in a home on South Shelby Street, an 80-year-old woman was still living inside.

The woman said "yeah" when asked if it was safe to be living in there, but there is a bright orange sign on her door says otherwise. It's a notice of methamphetamine contamination posted by the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. It warns "hazardous chemicals and residual contamination may pose a serious health threat to those that enter."

But the senior citizen, afraid to come outside, said she has no choice but to remain in this toxic den. A relative secretly built the meth lab in her front room and now she has no where else to go.

Connie Mendel, Louisville Metro's environmental health administrator, said toxins left over from a meth lab can cause breathing problems and burns and are especially dangerous for children.

"To make meth at home takes a lot of different chemicals," Mendel said. "So just the residue itself can be a hazard to small children and infants."

Mendel said the effects can be the same as methamphetamine use in a grown adult.

"I mean it's an illegal drug," Mendel said. "We've had cases where children have actually ingested meth as part of a lab and died."

There were multiple meth contamination notices at the home of this former meth lab in Highview, but the warnings, are often ignored.

In Jefferson County there are a number of homes where meth was allegedly cooked and people continued to live there.

The state of Kentucky said only a third of all meth contaminated properties in Kentucky are properly cleaned up and returned to safe habitable conditions. And there is no law that actually forces a property owner to decontaminate a home where someone has been cooking meth.

"Do I think they should require clean up?" Mendel said. "Yeah, I would love for there to be a state law that requires clean up for meth contaminated properties."

There are laws that require methamphetamine contamination notices remain posted until the owner hires a certified contractor to decontaminate. If they don't, it's a felony to sell or rerent the property without disclosing the risk. But on several homes, meth contaminations notices had been ripped down despite the fact those homes had not been properly decontaminated.

And even where signs remained, the people inside were often unconvinced of the threat.

It costs between $3,000 and $5,000 to hire a certified contractor to de-contaminate a meth home. Some property owners, said they simply can't afford that.

To make sure you are not moving into a meth home, contact your county's Health Department or the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet at (502) 564-6716 to check the data base of homes where contamination notices have been posted. To ensure that a proper clean up has been done, you can purchase the same meth check kit used by state and local investigators by clicking here.

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Copyright 2013 WAVE News. All rights reserved.

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