Consumers have a new measure of protection available that provides important benefits when they are considering homes to buy, neighborhoods in which to live and vehicles to purchase.
The Indiana State Police recently unveiled a database, meth.in.gov (click on “Clan Lab addresses), that lists information about where clandestine methamphetamine labs have been found across the state — such as homes, apartment units and vehicles.
House buyers and apartment renters would want to know about previous meth lab activity in what could be their new home because that information would help them determine if the neighborhood was good and one in which they wanted to live.
The database lists about 300 Bartholomew County locations dating back to 2007. Seven meth labs found inside Columbus area homes, three instances of meth-related chemicals reported in vehicles in the county and one lab found in a garage or outbuilding — all since Jan. 1, 2013 — are included in the database.
Listing vehicles may not seem necessary, but knowing whether meth-related chemicals have been inside a vehicle — just like a home — is a health benefit.
Long-term exposure to chemicals used in making meth can lead to cancer, organ damage and other health problems, especially in children. Chemicals that are not properly removed by a hazardous materials team can permeate every surface of a home or vehicle and remain long after the meth lab is removed.
The Indiana State Police collected data about meth labs for years for internal purposes, but with the information readily available decided to make the database public. While having this tool available sooner would have been great, it’s still a tremendous public service.
However, the database does have limitations and one reporting issue.
The listings include only seized meth labs that appear on State Police criminal incident reports or reports sent to them by another law enforcement agency. So, the list is likely incomplete.
Homes that have been properly decontaminated don’t appear immediately. Listings are removed after the state police receive a Certificate of Illegal Drug Lab Cleanup from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
Also, some properties are counted twice, which bloats the numbers. That happens when state police experts remove labs that already have been confiscated by other police agencies.
Despite these few shortcomings of the database, the benefits of having it public outweigh them. Providing consumers with another layer of protection has a significant value. So if you are considering a move, check out the database first. It can’t hurt, and may in fact help.