Lawton_Would you want to know if your rental home used to be a meth house? Most would say yes, and most know meth labs use deadly chemicals to make the drug. But, what happens when the lab is shut down? Who cleans it all up? That's what an Oklahoma state senator would like to know.
According to current state law, landlords are not required to tell a renter that their home used to be the home of a meth lab. But, realtors do. So, a renter may never even know that their house was once filled with toxic chemicals.
Detective David Schucker from the Lawton Police Department's Special Operations Unit cleans up the messes meth labs leave behind. But, he says the department can only go so far on private property. He says he understands how a renter might feel about this sort of news, too. "I know that I would not want to, unwittingly, rent a property that had been a meth lab that hadn't been cleaned up property, and moved in with my kids, my family, my animals, my pets, and not know."
Even after the mess is gone, the meth still leaves a chemical residue throughout the entire house. "Those gases can be trapped in carpet fibers, and then people on their hands and knees or children crawling on their hands and knees can release those gases from the carper fibers and actually be lethally poisoned by those," says Schucker.
Current Oklahoma law doesn't require landlords to tell renters the lab was there, nor does it require them to clean it up. "Just slapping a fresh coat of paint over everything is not gonna do it," Schucker says. But, Oklahoma Senator Roger Ballenger has filed the "Meth Lab Cleanup" bill that will require property owners to clean up the former meth labs.
Sadly, some landlords don't even realize there are health concerns, or what the concerns are. "As an association, we probably have a lack of knowledge. We need to do a little better job of learning what's involved, so if that comes up with one of our members, we know how to advise them," says Stan Booker from the Lawton Apartment Association.
If cleaning up these former labs saves just one life, Detective Schucker says it's worth it. "I think the legislation's a great idea," he says. The police department says the best way to clean up the hazardous chemicals is to have an environmental service do it. They are trained to clean up environmental hazards and can certify whether it's safe to live there again.