Make sure that home of your dreams wasn't a former drug lab

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For each pound of methamphetamine (crank) produced in a home lab, six pounds of toxic waste is generated. Given that, wouldn't you want to know if that house for sale you've fallen in love with had previously been the site of a lab?

The Drug Enforcement Agency thinks so, and has created the National Clandestine Laboratory Register, a site which allows you to quickly look up houses in your state and county that have been identified as a meth lab. I'm pleased to see that the nearest lab to my home is over five miles away. Or perhaps I should be upset that a meth lab had been discovered only five miles from my home.

Meth is the most abused drug, after alcohol and marijuana, in the U.S. It is highly addictive and destructive. The byproducts of home-cooked meth include acids, bases, metal, solvents and salts. We've become accustomed to stories about labs blowing up, but more subtle long-term consequences can result from the vapors from reside soaked into house timbers and woodwork, or hiding in plumbing, or in the dirt of backyards used as dumping grounds. I'd also be concerned about users coming around looking to score some crank, unaware that the house is was no longer a doper's palace.

A meth lab cleanup costs around $2,500 on average to clean up, but could range up to four times that amount for serious pollution. Given that cost, I'd be concerned that shortcuts might have been taken in the cleanup, to save money.

If you're shopping for a home, I'd suggest taking a moment to check the register, and bring in professional help to evaluate any property appearing on the list for which you have an interest.

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