ST. CHARLES, MO (KPLR) – Vera Shaw just wants to get back into her St. Charles apartment. She can’t because it’s been temporarily condemned. Police say a 26-year-old man started a fire inside a unit with chemicals used to make meth. That was Sunday. It could be weeks before residents can return.
There are bright red notices taped to the doors of the apartment units that read, “Danger Keep Out”.
There isn’t always a warning sign on homes where meth has been cooked. There are unsuspecting home buyers and renters who move into their new home without ever realizing they could be at risk of coughing, shortness of breath, headaches or other symptoms of exposure to meth.
Missouri law requires sellers to disclose any knowledge of meth lab activity but there is no guarantee they will. We talked with several home inspectors who said they do not test for meth because it’s too costly and time consuming. They also said it’s difficult to keep up with the different testing requirements enforced by each municipality.
Bill Bandy is the owner and lead tester for Safety Environmental Testing in St. Louis. He estimates he receives one call a week with a question about testing for meth. He also says positive tests have turned up in unlikely places.
“I have done work in some really nice neighborhoods,” said Bandy.
He said renters and buyers should be mindful of several red flags.
“Flooring with some unusual staining or burning, if you see the grass or the vegetation around the property that looks like it had a toxic spill,” said Bandy. “A lot of glass or plastic bottles left around, unusual ventilation that doesn’t look like it’s part of the original construction or unusual plumbing.”
He said be suspicious if kitty litter is spread throughout a home.
“Sometimes manufacturers will actually use kitty litter to clean up the chemicals,” explained Bandy.
The DEA has a list of all reported meth labs.