Home buyers, beware: Contamination from cooking meth can linger for years

Australian researchers analyzed contamination levels in everyday household items from a home suspected to have previously been used for cooking methamphetamine. Courtesy of Flinders University.

Breaking Bad brought the messy, smelly process of cooking methamphetamine into American households with its depiction of a high school chemistry teacher who begins making the stuff after a terminal cancer diagnosis. Walter White went from cooking meth in an RV, to a home basement, to a full-fledged underground lab run by a crime syndicate. It’s highly likely that any place he cooked would still be contaminated years later, according to a new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research.

Researchers at Flinders University in Australia took samples from a house in rural Victoria, Australia, once used to cook meth and found the house still contained significant levels of the drug even five years after the drug operations had ended. And that contamination had transferred over to personal possessions of the home’s new owners.

“Our results demonstrate that methamphetamine has continued to mobilize after manufacture when the property was under new ownership for a period exceeding five years,” said co-author Kirstin Ross. “This suggests that the methamphetamine is not breaking down or being removed and is constantly transferred from contaminated to non-contaminated objects.”

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