While researching meth contamination news stories online, I came upon this article and video about a 74 year old woman who discovered that her home had elevated levels of meth contamination. She had lived in the 100 year old apartment for a couple of years and saw a great decrease in her quality of life, so her daughter did a self-test for meth. The results were very low, but above the State of Utah regulated levels so they got the Health Department involved. More testing was performed and it was confirmed that elevated levels were present. Typically, these levels have no affect upon the majority of mankind, but the most susceptible are the very young, the elderly, and those with respiratory illness. Once again though, very low levels of meth contamination were identified and there is no reporting of any other testing or investigation having been performed to identify if the meth was the source of the decrease in the occupant’s quality of life.
74-year-old woman suffers symptoms, meth detected in her apartment
Posted: October 30, 2013, by Annie Cutler
OGDEN, Utah — A 74-year-old woman is out of her home and recovering from symptoms she has because she was exposed to methamphetamine in her home, or so she says.
She lived at the Valencia Apartments at 461 East 27th Street in Ogden.
Maxine McNeeley had been in her apartment for the last two years, and she said it was just three months after she started living there that her health started to decline.
The sign on her door says it all. McNeeley’s apartment is closed to occupancy because of chemical contamination, specifically methamphetamine.
“I wasn’t sleeping well, I wasn’t breathing well, I’d never had those issues before,” McNeely said.
After hearing about the previous tenant, and her health not improving, McNeeley took matters into her own hands. She said it was her daughter who ordered a home testing kit, and when the results from that test were above the state regulated levels for methamphetamine, she said that’s when she told the landlord of the issue.
Weber Morgan Health Department officials said a certified test confirmed the levels of meth in McNeeley’s unit were higher than the state standard, but not very high.
Brian Cowan, deputy director of environmental health, said even those levels can be enough to harm some people.
“The levels that were sampled in this apartment probably wouldn’t affect most people, but the elderly, children, and people with immune-compromised systems are usually more susceptible.”
McNeeley said now that she’s out of the unit she’s feeling better, but she said she worries about lingering and long-term health impacts of her exposure.
“When you’re exposed to something that was beyond your control, and it’s harmful and hazardous, it makes me angry and I worry about it, yeah,” she said.
FOX 13 News reached out the attorney representing the landlord, who responded with the following statement:
“In response to Ms. McNeeley’s concerns, The Valencia apartment has taken all reasonable and appropriate measures to remediate the issue. The apartment community immediately ordered a professional meth contamination test and subsequent remediation efforts. In addition, Ms. McNeeley was immediately offered another apartment unit within the Valencia apartment community or one of its sister communities. Ultimately, apartment management helped Ms. McNeeley secure alternative housing through the Weber County Housing Authority.
The Valencia apartment takes claims of meth contamination seriously and performs tests any time reasonable suspicion of contamination is brought to their attention. In Ms. McNeeley’s case, the apartment community was not aware of any reason her unit may be exposed to meth contamination. Ms. McNeeley never brought her concerns of meth contamination to management until after she obtained the results of her own self-test kit. At that time, management took immediate action and offered to help Ms. McNeeley with her housing situation. While the meth contamination levels were undeniably above the legal limits, the exposure levels were relatively minimal and there is no reason to believe any of Ms. McNeeley’s personal property has been cross-contaminated. The apartment community is awaiting further results of the remediation efforts to assess further action though.
In addition to Ms. McNeeley, the Valencia apartments are also a victim in this situation. Due to the unknown, real perpetrator’s illegal methamphetamine use in the apartment unit, the Valencia must now spend thousands of dollars to remediate that particular unit. It is, therefore, in the Valencia apartment’s best interest to appropriately screen all of their tenants and take immediate and appropriate action anytime the use of illegal substances is brought to their attention.“
Health experts said symptoms of methamphetamine exposure can vary depending on the person, but they typical symptoms include headaches, dizziness, some respiratory distress, and what’s referred to as flu-like symptoms.
So there you have it, another story where the meth contamination is getting the blame for headaches, dizziness, respiratory distress, and flu-like symptoms. Should you have your home tested for meth? Absolutely! If the symptoms listed above are felt, should a meth test be the only investigation you perform while trying to determine the cause? Absolutely Not!!! Meth testing should be just one of several tests that you should perform when a member of the house is experiencing headaches, dizziness, respiratory distress, and/or flu-like symptoms. The further investigations high on the list should also include carbon monoxide testing, investigation for water entry and mold, lead based paint, and even radon testing. The common theme of these news stories is that if meth contamination is identified that it is immediately blamed for any ill health effects without investigating further to see if other indoor air quality and environmental issues are present. Seems irresponsible to me to assume that A+B automatically equals C.
Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah - www.TheHomeInspector.com - Michael Leavitt & Co Inspections, Inc.