Police and drug enforcement authorities raid and shut down thousands of meth labs across the country each year. A major methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine drug bust resulted in the arrest of 80 people in the Puget Sound area over a four-month period in 2018. Ninety-five pounds of meth were seized in the process by federal and local law enforcement officials.
The acclaimed TV series Breaking Bad showed viewers how dangerous and combustible a meth lab can be. In addition, it showed how easy it was to set up a lab anywhere such as in an old home or in the basement of a building.
Most states have regulations relating to the restoration of a structure to eliminate all traces of harmful chemicals from the building. Property management companies may be asked to help clean up a home, condominium, or apartment that was used to illegally produce meth.
Tips for property management companies involved in restoration from former meth labs
- Meet with police.
A meth lab is a crime scene. Check with local police and/or drug enforcement officials to learn about the extent of the lab facilities. The property managers should never inspect the property alone.
The managers should be accompanied by law enforcement authorities. All people entering the former lab may need personal protection equipment and hazmat clothing. This includes eye safety glasses, heavy gloves, and heavy shoes.
The chemicals used in methamphetamine production can cause dizziness, coughing, and burns if they are not immediately removed. No one is safe to breathe or touch anything in the contaminated area.
- Find a reliable environmental remediation company that will professionally remove hazardous materials.
Local authorities may have recommendations for reliable contamination removal services. The police and drug enforcement agencies may have removed all chemical containers from a lab that was shut down, but odors from ammonia and other substances may remain. There may be residue on walls and floors from the volatile compounds used in the production of the illegal product.
Industrial hygienists who are experienced in cleaning meth labs may conduct pre-remediation samples of surfaces to determine if they can be cleaned enough to make the rooms livable. A specialist will provide an estimate of the necessary work and the cost of decontamination and restoration.
They will begin decontamination as soon as law enforcement has cleared the area.
- Property management companies should know the processes involved in the remediation of a meth lab area.
The EPA has voluntary guidelines for meth lab cleanup but it is the responsibility of the state and local law enforcement agencies along with private companies to decontaminate the area. All HVAC systems must be shut down to avoid further contamination. The vents and ducts in the system must be professionally cleaned. Meanwhile, the room or rooms should be opened to fresh air and special HEPA air filters used to collect potential pathogens.
- Arrange for an agency inspection that includes an air quality assessment.
The entire unit must be cleaned and inspected by a state or local environmental agency after the professional remediation. Property management may have walls repainted and floor coverings replaced prior to the final inspection. Window coverings should also be replaced.
Property managers should tell prospective renters or real estate agents selling the property about the former meth lab. They can supply interested parties with the regulatory clearance certifications to show that the property is safe.
A property management company will work closely with law enforcement and industrial environment remediation services to clean a former meth lab and make the premises safe again.
Son-Rise Property Management has been serving the property management needs of Bellingham and Whatcom County since 1996. Contact us today to see how we can help you find a rental property for your family or manage your rental properties.