Oklahoman Modified: January 13, 2008 at 12:24 pm •  Published: January 13, 2008
TULSA - a proposal to require landlords to clean homes where methamphetamine labs operated before renting out the residences again would help keep renters safe, officials said.

The proposal by Sen. Roger Ballenger, D-Okmulgee, is the result of an interim study involving the Department of Environmental Quality and other experts in hazardous material remediation.

The study found that even after a meth lab has been dismantled, chemical residue on the walls and other surfaces could have long-term effects on people who later live there, said Bill Coye, owner of Apex Bioclean remediation company.

Under current state law, a person selling a house must inform the buyer if a meth lab was ever on the property. However, the state does not require landlords to clean a residence that previously housed a meth lab or tell renters that a lab had been located there.

"If I want to rent you a house, not only do I not have to clean it, I don't even have to tell you about it," Coye said.

Not all the chemicals used in the production of meth disappear when police remove the lab. Toxic chemicals can stick to walls, appliances, ceilings, fans and almost any surface in a house, Coye said.

"This is a witch's brew deposited on the walls of houses," he said.

Little research has been done on the long-term, low-dose effects of chemicals used in meth labs, according to the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws.

However, anecdotal evidence suggests that such exposure can lead to cancer as well as to kidney, liver and other health problems, according to local, state and federal agencies that deal with meth labs.

The residual chemicals, some of which are carcinogenic, don't affect the human body all at once, said Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics spokesman Mark Woodward.