Death and Danger at Home Drug Labs

Suspected Home Drug Lab Explosion Causes $300K in Damage (NBC Los Angeles)

Making Butane Hash a Lethal Mix in Home Drug Labs (Los Angeles Times)

Do You Live Near a Meth Lab? (CNN Money)

These headlines are just a few of the most recent news stories reporting the death and destruction that happens when illicit drug manufacturers make drugs at home.

How BHO Explosions Occur

THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana and the building block of butane hash oil (BHO), also known as honey oil. Normal marijuana contains about 35 percent THC — butane hash oil contains 90 percent or more THC.

Butane hash oil is typically used in a vaporizer, which provides a smokeless and odorless way to get high. It is also several times more powerful than normal marijuana. Little is known about the effects of butane hash oil on health — with the exception of its production, which is extremely dangerous.

Producing BHO is extremely dangerous because of the flammable vapors in butane canisters. Severe burn injuries and deaths have resulted from manufacturing BHO.

As its popularity increases, so do the number of explosions. A recent Los Angeles Times report noted that in at least 17 cases over 14 months, “cooks” and bystanders received treatment for “catastrophic” injuries.

Some officials believe the toll is much higher since making BHO is currently illegal in California. In California — where BHO manufacturing is currently unregulated — it is legal to buy butane canisters and hash, but it is not legal to make it. Colorado, on the other hand, strictly regulates the production of BHO through health and safety codes as well as frequent inspections.

Once a BHO lab explodes, it often destroys the structure completely. Many individuals have died as a result of making BHO at home.

Meth Labs at Home

Although meth lab explosions are less common than BHO lab explosions, they are more likely to harm unsuspecting future residents. Contaminants used in the production of meth can stick to walls and floors, textiles, furniture, sinks and drains, and ventilation systems. Exposure to these contaminants can cause health problems, which is why states such as Idaho regulate the cleanup of former meth labs.

You can check out the locations of former illicit drug labs by visiting HomeFacts.com. Search drug lab seizures by state, date, and location. You can also learn what regions are most likely to have a home drug lab. Missouri, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Tennessee have the most former home drug labs, with nearly 8,000 total. About 1,400 drug lab seizures take place every year.

How to Identify a Former Drug Lab

If you believe sellers have to disclose a home is a former drug lab, you are mistaken. A recent CNN/Money report uncovered that federal rules do not “require sellers or their agents to disclose a home’s meth history” — even if the home has been decontaminated.

Check with the National Clandestine Laboratory Register to see if your home was ever a drug lab. You can also check with the town clerk, where your home’s most important records are kept. Interviewing neighbors is also helpful, as is checking with the local police. Look for cans or bottles of chemicals such as solvents, cleaners, iodine, and phosphorus. Tubing, rubber gloves, camp stoves, masks, propane tanks, and coolers are also important signs, according to CNN/Money.

Finally, be wary of foreclosures in high-density drug lab regions such as Missouri. As-is property sales provide no recourse to buyers, even if the home is coated in dangerous chemicals.

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