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Clean Up Meth Use at Your Rental

Methamphetamine is a public health crisis that unfortunately affects all of our communities. Owners of rental properties face difficult challenges when it turns out that one of their units or properties has been the site of meth use or even meth cooking.

Health & Safety Risks Associated With Exposure to Meth Labs

meth use at your rental property

Despite what the word “laboratory” may conjure up in some people’s minds, meth labs are sophisticated environments. Instead, they are spaces that are used as makeshift spaces for the manufacture of methamphetamine.

The ingredients used to make meth are unfortunately pretty easy to access because they are mostly household items. Pharmacies are trying to prevent meth cooks from being able to access pseudoephedrine, which is one of the key ingredients, but it is still widely used in meth production.

Other toxic but accessible ingredients include antifreeze, iodine, and kitty litter. These items are highly flammable, especially when combined. They also produce hazardous odors and can damage internal organs, even after the lab has been destroyed or removed. Common ailments from exposure to a meth lab include:

  • Irritated mucous membranes around the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract
  • Nausea
  • Burning skin or eyes
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath, coughing, chest tightness, and chest pain
  • Hallucinations and/or paranoia
  • Convulsions
  • Insomnia
  • Memory loss
  • Aggressive behavior

In extreme situations, exposure to the chemicals used in meth labs can also cause comas, brain damage, permanent psychological disorders, liver damage, and fatal disorders of the kidneys, lungs, and other organs.

What Do You Need to Do if One of Your Tenants Was Using or Cooking Meth at Your Property?

Nobody wants to deal with this, but it is a reality for landlords and building managers around the country. The EPA provides guidelines for how to clean up a property after it has been used for meth. Let’s look at your responsibilities when it comes to cleaning up one of these properties.

1. Work with law enforcement first.

If you suspect illicit drug use at one of your properties, it is important that you work with the proper law enforcement agencies first. Do not enter a property that you suspect has been contaminated with methamphetamines; rather, allow local law enforcement to take the lead. Once they have completed their investigation, you are ready to move on to the clean-up stages.

2. Gather PPE and create ventilation.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will keep you and anyone you are working with safe from exposure to dangerous chemicals. You should also create ventilation by opening doors and windows and using blowers and fans to move air through the house. HEPA filtration systems help with this as well. Do not use the HVAC system until it has been completely cleaned out.

3. Remove contaminated materials.

The EPA offers guidance on this: remove any contaminated materials and drug paraphernalia from the house for destruction or cleaning and then wait 24 hours with proper ventilation before re-entering the building. This may include removing carpets, furniture, window treatments, and anything else in the home.

4. Use commercial-grade cleaning equipment.

Your ordinary vacuum cleaner and mop will not be enough. You need to vacuum with a commercial-grade machine that includes a HEPA filter. Before you wash the walls, you will need to vacuum them as well.

5. Preliminary and follow-up washing.

Washing hard surfaces is going to be a two-step process. First, you will wash everything down with detergent and water — not bleach. (Bleach + chemicals used to create meth can cause a dangerous chemical reaction!) You may need to test the water after washing to determine if it can be disposed of onsite or if it is contaminated and needs to be treated as hazardous waste. The second water washing will use a regular all-purpose cleaner, and you will wash the walls, ceilings, and floors, as well as the countertops, windows, and furniture.

6. Address the HVAC system.

The HVAC system should be off throughout this process. Cleaning out the HVAC can be one of the most challenging aspects of remediation, especially because you will need to clean the entire duct system. It is best to hire HVAC and ventilation contractors for this part of the job.

7. Address plumbing and septic concerns.

Chemicals from meth labs are often disposed of through the house’s drains and toilets. Plumbing systems can become corroded from these chemicals, and you should have a complete inspection of your plumbing and septic system to determine how they may have been affected.

8. After clean-up is complete, go through clearance testing.

Clearance testing shows your local governments and authorities that your property is safe to be rented again

A professional biohazard restoration company can alleviate so much of the stress of cleaning up after the unfortunate experience of meth on your property. Biohazard restoration companies take care of the clean-up so that you don’t have to worry about the complexities of each of the above steps! Alpha Omega Disaster Restoration offers everything you need, from initial testing and clean-up to complete reconstruction! When you need help recovering from meth use at your property, we’re here to guide you through the process and get your property as good as new again! Contact us today to talk about your options.

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