Everyone who sells a house in Colorado now has a new promise to keep: My place has never been a meth lab. . . .
Under a new rule, every seller of a house, condo, apartment building or hotel must certify that the property has never been used to manufacture methamphetamine or, if it has, that it has been cleaned up according to state standards.
Luckily when we sell the Drunkablog manse I'll have no problem lying on the disclosure form! The story goes on to describe how amazingly horribly awful meth-lab residue is to the human body:
The public-safety dangers of meth-lab residue - which is not not simple methamphetamine but a witch's brew of dangerous chemicals that, when combined in the cooking process, form even nastier compounds - are enormous, experts say, and the cleanup costs can be staggering.
That bad, eh, Smithers, er, Smither? Excellent. And damn convenient, since you stand to profit so hugely from the hugeness of this huge, huge, huge problem. Not quite edified, though, the reporter consults another, um, expert:
"It's a huge, huge, huge problem," said Neal Smither, owner of Crime Scene Cleaners, a national remediation company that does significant business in Colorado. "It's worse than anything else out there."
He's calling his client a meth tard! Funny though how an earlier story in the Post quoting (sorry) yet another expert has a very different spin. This expert says it's the residue left in rooms where "simple methamphetamine" has been smoked that's actually more dangerous:
The health effects of exposure to a meth-contaminated house can be devastating. One Adams County man unleashed a toxic dose of chemicals when he used a steam cleaner on his apartment's carpet, said Thomas Hoeflinger, his lawyer.
"He actually passed out and had to crawl out into the parking lot," Hoeflinger said. "When he came to, he admitted himself to a hospital."
Hoeflinger said his client, who does not wish to be named in this article, was exposed to a methamphetamine level many times more than what is considered a health hazard
The man suffered extensive brain damage, lost his ability to control emotions, can no longer work and "is currently in rehab, trying to learn such simple tasks as making his day out, planning a calendar," he said.
Rob Derrera, an estimator with COCAT restoration contractors in Denver, said his workers have found higher levels of residue in [motel] rooms where meth has only been smoked than in rooms where it has been cooked. He said the unknown is how much smoking over what period of time it takes to push levels to the hazardous zone . . . .So there's a little disagreement there. Amazingly, the experts do agree on one thing: cleanup is fantastically expensive (bet you didn't see that coming). For a house, "[s]mall jobs can run $10,000, and bigger jobs routinely cost $20,000 to $30,000 [the umpteenth expert] said, adding that costs can rise much higher in some cases." For a motel:
it could cost thousands of dollars for a single room. Tests for residues on furniture, walls, rugs and other surfaces cost upwards of $100 each. Cleanup might not be as extensive as the mandated cleanups for meth labs, but would still range from about $3,000 to $7,000 for the average 300-square-foot room . . . .
With costs like that, you exclaim innocently, surely there must be standards for the training of cleanup technicians, "safe" amounts of residue and the like, mustn't there? According to this 2003 explanation of current state law on accepted cleanup procedures, no.* But:
Several other states have established cleanup standards specifically for the residue of meth. After communicating with some of these state health departments, it was learned that these levels are not health-based. The meth cleanup levels are based on what is believed to be conservative and protective, while at the same time achievable by clean-up contractors [how considerate!]. Currently, there is not sufficient information available regarding the effects of long-term exposure to low concentrations of meth to adequately evaluate chronic minimum risk levels. Therefore, the Department is unable to provide a health-based exposure limit for meth at this time.
Well that's just ducky. A bill signed by Gov. Owens in 2004 also doesn't bother to
provide for regulatory agency involvement in the cleanup process, nor does it include a mechanism to ensure that cleanup contractors or consultants are qualified to perform, or experienced in, meth lab cleanup. Therefore, the cleanup standards must be self-implementing, and provide a clear and detailed process to ensure that the property is properly decontaminated and that adequate documentation of the decontamination process is provided to support the immunity from civil lawsuits.No subsequent bills besides this homeowner disclosure dealie that I can find. In short, current law is a (meth) recipe for abuse by unscrupulous contractors.
How is it, by the way, that while the same people who make this crap also smoke the vast majority of it, they're able to do so day after day for years? They don't look so good, maybe, but they're alive, and they can recover and get false teeth and be as healthy as anybody. Can't they? So why all this incredible freakout and expense about such minute quanitities?
*And don't call me Shirley.
Update: Check out the guy lower left on the Crime Scene Cleaners page. What's he thinking as he looks at his watch? "As a busy professional, when I need fast and thorough crime-scene cleanup I call the professionals at . . ." or maybe the more sitcom-y, "oh no, the boss is coming over for dinner in an hour and Emily and the kids are spattered all over the house! Heeeeeelllllllp, Crime Scene Cleaners!"
Update II: Favorite quote, from a realtor (sorry, "Realtor") in Grand Junction: "Used to be if a house smelled like cat pee, you assumed it was cat pee, you painted it and moved on," said Hal Heath . . . , who advocates disclosure."
We ever move to Grand Junction, Hal, YOU are our man.
Update: Little slow on including this, but commenter LJo notes that National Jewish Hospital (motto: "Not just for Jews!") has all kinds of standards for exposure to meth and its constituents.