Was your hotel/motel used as a meth lab? You may never know (but don't use the coffee pot)

The Associated Press reports that when motel owners find evidence that one of their rooms has been used to cook up meth, they're discouraged from reporting contamination because of the expense of cleaning them properly. Instead of losing the room to quarantine and clean-up, they re-rent them and simply mask the odor of the toxic chemicals. Because motel owners can't afford it, guests pay the price through their health.

It's not like a motel owner can do much to stop the practice. Drug processors are secretive and wily, which is why they use the cover of a motel room to begin with. Meth labs can be transported in something as small as a backpack and set up in four hours.

A skilled processor can check in at 10 p.m. and be gone by 8 a.m., but the traces of their toxic chemicals can linger for days or weeks, making subsequent guests sick. The odor of strong cleaners or cigarette smoke can mask the toxins, which can cause eye and skin irritation, vomiting, and headaches.

Cleanup crews fetch between $2,000 and $20,000 to don hazmat suits and swab the area, and motel owners are the ones who have to pony up the price. For that reason, often nothing is done. The AP interviewed the owner of the Cascade Motel in Chattanooga, Tenn. where room 38 was used as a mobile lab one night. "Our bad luck," sighed the owner.