Ice house horror: ‘We discovered our dream home was once a meth lab’

A Weekly investigation discovers innocent families are getting sick after inadvertently moving into homes once used as illegal drug labs.

Nov 02, 2016 11:13am

By Sue Smethurst

Australia’s ice epidemic causes heartache not only for users and their families, but also the innocent people who inadvertently move into homes once used as illegal drug labs, writes Sue Smethurst…

Imagine you’ve purchased your dream home, a sprawling country property for a tree-change, with greens hills for the kids to run free, clean air to fill their lungs and a rambling old house to renovate into a forever family home.

Yet soon after you move in, the kids start getting sick, really sick. They have trouble breathing and sleeping, they’re constantly cranky and their skin is breaking out in rashes.

You beat a path to the local doctor’s surgery, but no one can really offer an explanation for the symptoms until there’s a knock at the door one day from the shire council.

Cleaning up meth labs in public housing cost the Queensland government $600,000 over three years.

They have come to notify you that your new home was previously a clandestine meth lab and your children are, in fact, showing levels of methamphetamine in their system akin to that of an adult drug user. They are unwitting ice addicts.

It could be a scene straight out of Breaking Bad, but this is a living nightmare for one eastern Victorian family, whose $500,000 country home was so seriously contaminated with the residue of methamphetamine that it may have to be knocked down – and they had no idea they were living in an ice lab.

“For this particular family, who asked not to be identified, this has been devastating, but they’re not alone,” says Flinders University academic and lecturer Dr Jackie Wright, who has completed a PhD on the health effects of clandestine meth labs. “I’ve met many families in the same circumstances,” she says. “People are getting sick because of the invisible toxins from ice. This is a big problem in Australia, more widespread than we realise. We should be as aware of this as we are the effects of asbestos and lead paint.”(The Australian Womens Weekly 2 Nov 2016)

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