Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Beware of the Meth Lab

No, no, I'm not talking about staying away from BYU's Math Lab, though I'm told that it has serious heating/cooling problems. What I'm really talking about is the growing tragedy of meth (methamphetamine) usage in homes. But unlike many other drugs, this one leaves a dangerous residue on all that its fumes can touch - walls, cabinets, ceilings, floors, and other surfaces. In high quantities, it can even seep into the drywall and sometimes into the studs. It's dangerous because its effects will be experienced months and even years after termination of use.

So it's no wonder Brecken, Talyn's sister, lovingly prodded us to get our condo checked for meth. A local chemical laboratory, DataChem, offers free kits to test for this drug - just wipe any surface with the alcohol wipes, return it to the lab, and they'll run the tests. Though it costs $45 to do this test, the money was well-spent: the test came back positive. The levels weren't too high, but they were slightly higher than the legal limit. And good timing too. We were going to close in a week.

Once I sat and thought about it, I guess it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise - as part of the Teacher Next Door program, the property was foreclosed and is currently owned by the government. Plus, we heard from the neighbors that one of the previous tenants used drugs.

Don't get me wrong, this property could not have been a meth lab - if it were, the results would have come back thousands of times higher. It's most likely that someone was just smoking there or something. So we decided to get it cleaned - any property in this program yields such a ROI (return on investment), that even if we had to pay a couple thousands of dollars to clean it, we'd still make a tidy profit. We were all ready to spend that money, when we learned that the government would take care of it! We assumed that they wouldn't, since it is an "as-is" property, but there are probably some legal implications of the government selling a meth property...

The good thing is that we don't have to pay the thousands of dollars to get it cleaned. The bad thing is that the government always takes longer than we'd like. First, it has to be filed with the police department. Then with the county health department. Then they have to get bids to do the retesting process (to confirm our results). Then they have to do the retest. Then more bids, but for the cleaning process. Then the actual cleaning process. Finally, some officials from the county health department have to go back and test the property again to confirm that it has been adequately cleaned. Sheesh, what a process. It'll take at least 3-4 months.

Naturally, we had some concerns about how clean the condo would really be afterwards. After talking to several meth cleaning specialists, they assured me that the place would be "the cleanest house on the block." Not only do they use solutions almost as strong as what the government uses to combat anthrax, but the property is also inspected by a health official to ensure that the property passes their strict regulations. Especially since we're having a baby, cleanliness is very important...

So what's the status? Well, they're running the preliminary tests to confirm the test that we did ourselves. Though it's a long, slow process, at least it's going somewhere. It probably has something to do with procedure, red tape, and overall government sluggishness. Meanwhile, we'll just wait patiently in our shrinking 1-bedroom apartment.