Why test for methamphetamine or meth residue? The meth epidemic is spreading throughout the United States; urban, suburban, and rural. In Utah, along the Wasatch front, some officials have suggested that as many as 10% of the single family homes and up to 80% of rentals contain meth residue. At just over 350,000 dwellings in Salt Lake County, that means over 35,000 properties could be affected and that’s just one county. Contamination from meth can be caused by the manufacture of meth (clandestine meth labs) or through the smoking or use of meth inside a structure. Whatever the source of contamination, meth residue can create an unsafe living environment especially for young children and the elderly.
This photo shows a property posted by the health department due to chemical contamination, however not all affected properties are posted making it very difficult to know if a property is contaminated. Methamphetamine or meth residue cannot be seen and has no discernible odor. The best way to determine if a property is contaminated is to complete a meth residue test. A composite wipe sample is the most cost effective residue test and will tell you if meth is present and the level of contamination. A composite wipe sample can test up to 4 areas of a property for the cost of one test.
Some states are presenting legislation that will require meth testing as part of the home inspection process for home sales. Even new homes should be tested because they can be contaminated by workers smoking meth inside the property during construction. Rental properties are believed to have the highest percentage of contamination, particularly Multi-family dwellings that share a ventilation system. They are at greater risk because one tenant smoking or cooking meth can contaminate the entire property. Also, renters are less likely to test for meth when moving in so apartments are not regularly tested. Rental property owners are fearful of testing themselves due to the cost of decontamination and liability, they would rather not know.
A contaminated property can create a number of health issues for individuals and families. Be a savvy renter or buyer and test for meth residue prior to moving in, it is a small investment for the health of your family.