Homeowners unknowingly living in former drug labs

Published: 12 June 2016


Prospective home owners and tenants are being warned to check with authorities about whether their homes had been previously contaminated by drugs.

The warning comes after a six-year-old boy was found to have the same levels of methamphetamine (commonly known as Ice) in his system as an adult abuser.

It is understood his family, even after doing pre-purchase property checks, unknowingly purchased a home which had been previously used as a meth lab.

The family, who purchased the rural Victorian property, is seeking compensation from the council who they say failed to tell them police had found drug making equipment in the home, under the previous owners.

A drug detection test, completed a year after the family moved in, found methamphetamine readings of more than 40 times the acceptable level.

The six-year-old boy started experiencing sleep and respiratory problems which were later linked to ice contamination.

The family has moved out, leaving all possessions behind and the home may still be demolished.

The smoke from methamphetamine can seep into curtains, furnishing, chipboards and other household contents.

To rid of the drug would require ripping out virtually the entire home’s interior and starting again.

“Cleaning up these homes can run from thousands to tens of thousands, but could be as high as the cost of demolition and rebuilding,” Public health scientist and Flinders University researcher Jackie Wright said.

Other symptoms of methamphetamine exposure include, disrupted sleep, vivid dreams, anxiety, respiratory problems, wheezing, ADHD-like behaviour and developing rashes.

About 700 drug labs are uncovered in Australia each year.