SCHUMER: FAMILIES ACROSS WNY ARE MOVING INTO HOMES ONCE USED AS METH LABS & DO NOT EVEN KNOW IT; REMNANTS OF CHEMICALS MAKE HOMES POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS TO HEALTH – SCHUMER ANNOUNCES FIRST-EVER FED LAW REQUIRING HOME SELLERS AND LANDLORDS TO ALERT BUYERS OR RENTERS THAT HOME WAS ONCE USED TO MAKE METH
Only 5% of Homes Used to Make Meth Are Ever Disclosed – Chemicals from Meth-making Process Seep Undetected Into Carpet & Walls; Can Cause Dry Mouth, Headaches, Nosebleeds & Breathing Problems, Especially in Children
Shockingly, Unlike Other Hazards Like Lead, There is No Fed Law Requiring Disclosure By Sellers that Know A Home Was Once Used As Meth Lab; 23 States Have Laws, But Not NY – Schumer Bill Would Require Disclosure & Create Civil Penalty for Those Who Do Not Comply; Proper Meth Lab Clean-up Can Cost Up to $10K
Schumer: WNY Residents Have A Right To Know If Their Home Was Once A Meth Lab
Today, in Jamestown, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced new federal legislation that would require home sellers and landlords who know a home was used as a meth lab to alert potential buyers or renters. Schumer said that families in Jamestown and across Western New York are unknowingly moving into homes that were once used to make meth, because there is no law requiring sellers or landlords to disclose the home’s former use. Schumer said that it is critical for buyers or renters to be aware that meth was once made in their home because the chemical remnants from the meth-making process are hazardous to health and often seep into carpets and walls. These chemicals can cause dry mouth, headaches, nosebleeds and breathing problems, especially in children. It can also cost up to $10,000 to clean up, a major expense for families, once they realize the situation. Schumer’s legislation will be modeled after similar rules for disclosing the presence of lead; it will require homeowners to disclose the former use of the property when they know it was used as a meth lab and create a civil penalty for those who knowingly do not comply. Schumer noted that 23 states have enacted laws like this, but not New York, and that a strong federal standard is needed.
“When law enforcement officials raid a meth lab, they often wear a ‘moon suit’ to protect themselves from exposure to the chemical remnants and toxic byproducts left behind from the meth production, but the families and children moving into these former meth houses do not have the same benefit. Too often families do not find out their new home was the site of a meth lab, where these chemicals have likely seeped into the carpets and walls, until it is too late and the health consequences are overwhelming,” said Schumer. “The fact that sellers or landlords are not required to disclose that a home was formerly used as a meth lab is outrageous, and I am introducing legislation that would right this horrible wrong and require those who know their home was used as a meth lab to alert potential buyers or renters. It does not take a lab scientist to see there is a clear need for federal disclosure laws that help protect our families and children from exposure to meth-making chemicals.”
Schumer continued, “Meth use and production has become a serious epidemic in Chautauqua County, and across our state and nation. Just this past weekend, the brave law enforcement officials in our community busted two more labs that were producing meth to be sold right here in our community. We need to do everything we can to ensure that families who are spending their hard earned dollars on a home do not unknowingly expose themselves to these harmful chemicals.”
Schumer explained that in the State of New York and 27 states across the country, a home seller or landlord are not required to inform a potential buyer or renter if the property was previously used as a meth lab. Schumer said this is troubling given the fact that chemical remnants from the meth-making process are hazardous to health and can seep into carpets and walls, leaving behind materials and toxic byproducts often invisible to the eye that are still incredibly harmful. These substances can include propane fuel, lithium, sodium hydroxide and solvents like benzene, acetone and hexane, all of which can have negative and lasting effects on families and children in particular. These chemicals can cause dry mouth, headaches, nosebleeds and breathing problems, among other serious health issues. Because meth production can include such a wide array of chemicals, the resulting byproducts and health risks can vary greatly, a gamble Schumer said families should not have to make. Exposure to high concentrations of solvents like acetone can cause death, while chronic inhalation of hexane can cause significant damage to the central nervous system. The byproduct benzene has been linked to anemia and leukemia in adults as well as children. A simple test can detect the presence of chemicals used in the methamphetamine production process, and Schumer’s legislation would require disclosure of homes that test positive for the presence of these materials.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), approximately five pounds of toxic waste is generated as a byproduct for every pound of meth manufactured. Schumer said this means an alarming amount of chemical remnants and waste byproducts from the meth-making process could be present in homes without a new owner’s or renter’s knowledge. Schumer said this underscores the need for strong federal disclosure standards. Schumer said that it is critical for buyers or renters to be aware that meth was once made in their home because the chemicals left behind are hazardous to health. The DEA estimates that only 5 percent of homes used to make meth are ever disclosed, meaning the current number of unsuspecting buyers and renters impacted could be greatly underestimated. According to the DEA’s National Clandestine Laboratory Register, as of January 2015 there were six former meth lab houses in Chautauqua County that have been disclosed, five of which are located in the Jamestown area. Two more alleged labs were discovered just this past weekend. Schumer explained that, if only 5 percent of these homes are ever disclosed, the total number of former meth-making locations in residential homes could be over 100 for Chautauqua County and several hundred for all of Western New York.
Schumer’s push comes on the heels of several recent reports of meth lab busts in the Jamestown area. According to a report done by the Jamestown Post Journal, 2014 saw a series of meth-related incidents, including a meth-making related fire that burned down a home on Prendergast Avenue. According to the story, Jamestown police recently took two individuals into custody following a bust at a home on Caitlin Avenue. Additionally, just this past weekend, Jamestown police issued warrants for one man’s arrest upon discovering his home meth lab on McKinley Avenue. The Jamestown police are still pursuing the owner of home on Fifth Street, which was discovered on Friday as the location of yet another meth lab. Schumer said the rise in meth production and busts in Chautauqua County and Western New York has become a major concern, but what is also concerning is that families could be moving into the homes that were previously used for meth making without even knowing it. In addition to the serious health risks associated with living in a former meth lab that is still contaminated, Schumer explained, it can also cost up to $10,000 to clean up these former meth lab homes, which is a major expense for families once they realize the situation.
That is why Schumer is announcing legislation that would require home sellers or landlords to disclose the former use of the property when they know it was used as a meth lab and create a civil penalty for those who do not comply. Schumer noted that 23 states have enacted laws like this, but not New York, and that a strong federal standard is needed. Schumer said, currently, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has only set forth voluntary guidelines for state and local governments for meth lab clean up. Schumer likened this legislation to one that requires owners and landlords who know their properties present health hazards as a result of the presence of lead-based paint to disclose this information to potential buyers and renters. Lead from lead-based paint can place pregnant women and young children at risk. Young children in particular are most at risk of developing lead poisoning and permanent neurological damage from the lead, including learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and impaired memory. Schumer said that it is shocking that, unlike other hazards like lead, there is no federal law requiring the same type of disclosure by sellers that know a home was once used as a meth lab. The fine for failing to disclose lead to potential buyers or renters is up to $11,000.
Schumer was joined by Captain Robert Samuelson of the Jamestown Police; Chautauqua County Sheriff, Joe Gerace; and a representative from the Office of Mayor Sam Teresi.
“The manufacturing process for methamphetamine is extremely dangerous, and the chemicals used are simple household items,” said Jamestown Chief of Police, Harry Snellings. “When combined and cooked, however, they create a potentially lethal substance, and the remnants of that process are a serious risk to human health. We appreciate Senator Schumer’s assistance in ensuring that Jamestown residents are well-informed of the risks of former meth homes.”
“Over the past few years, we have seen a major increase in the use and production of methamphetamine in Chautauqua County,” said Joe Gerace, Chautauqua County Sheriff. “Senator Schumer was instrumental in obtaining the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Designation for Chautauqua County, and we appreciate his continued focus on helping our communities battle this deadly epidemic, including ensuring that people know what harmful chemicals could potentially exist in homes where meth was previously produced.”