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In the News: Tennessee's Meth Epidemic

The state of Tennessee has the country’s worst meth addiction issue, but it’s somewhat transferred into big business for industries that clean up meth houses. Apparently there are tens of thousands of meth labs throughout Tennessee, according to officials. This brings in a rush of cleanup workers that contract with properties when a corrupt batch explodes or the drug squad shuts it down after a bust. Depending on the size of the home and the quantity of pollution, it can total up to $25,000 to reestablish a former meth house back to a standard home.

“The process is extremely cumbersome, but I think it’s necessary,” said Dick Cochran, owner of the Memphis household where a resident was charged with making meth and causing the explosion and fire. He employed Siebenschuh to examine the property. “You don’t know how bad a house can be contaminated,” Cochran said. A lot of Americans are further aware of the making of the very addictive drug thanks to AMC’s successful show Breaking Bad,” about a high school chemistry teacher who turned into a meth cooker and dealer. In the real world, cleanup contractors are the ones who deal with a property when a batch detonates or police bust an operation and shut it down.

On the other hand, there is little misunderstanding of the growing industry in a majority of states, opening the door for possible malfeasance. In addition, property holders are frequently unwilling to pay thousands of dollars to make a home nontoxic, so countless houses don’t get cleaned for years, exposing residents and occasionally neighbors to dangerous chemicals. With the total cost reaching up to $25,000, you will find that most home insurance companies do not cover meth cleanup. To make a meth home safe, a specialized contractor must eliminate and replace every contaminated material in the home; from walls to carpeting to air conditioning outlets. After this process is complete, a certified “industrial hygienist” assesses the home to measure whether it can be lived in or requires further cleaning.

The craziest thing of all of this is even if you hire a cleanup crew, it is not essentially a guarantee that they will do their job accurately. The state of Tennessee may even start training people to supervise and evaluate the cleaning procedure of the meth houses. The worst case known so far of a cleanup situation that was mismanaged was last year with hygienist Douglas McCasland who allegedly contracted with owners to clean their properties, then unlawfully certified that the homes were safe to live in when they hadn’t been correctly cleaned. Authorities are aware that the contractors may do anywhere from a very good job to a horrible job and they are evaluating them very cautiously.

I may be a drug addict in recovery, but to imagine there being tons of meth labs all over the place near where I live is pretty crazy to me. I can only imagine what the people in Tennessee feel about this new epidemic. It’s scary to think that there could be a meth house near where you live and no one is cleaning it up, you could be breathing in all those toxic chemicals. It really should be a safety issue that requires those houses to be sanitized, but until then I hope they get as many homes efficiently cleaned up as possible. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.


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