John and Jessie Bates thought they were living the American dream when they bought their first home in Suquamish, Wash., in March 2007. That was until they and their 7-year-old son, Tyler, began getting sick shortly after moving in.
Over the course of a year-and-a-half, strange smells began to fill the home, Tyler started developing weird rashes and John quickly became perpetually sick.
Finally, a neighbor clued them in to the source of the mystery: The Bates' house was once used as a meth lab
Toxic chemicals used for making meth had soaked into the fabric of the house, continually sickening the family, Fox News reported. The Bates tore up the walls and flooring and discovered their worst fears were true.
"It came to us when we were tearing up the master bathroom, after the floor starting sinking and got spongy," Jessie Bates told FoxNews.com
. "That's when we found the iodine-like staining on the walls and human feces under the floor."
An environmental crew found traces of noxious chemicals, and determined that the house was not fit to live in.
The Bates had to spend $184,000 demolishing the toxic house and building a new one. "We've got a much higher mortgage payment than we're comfortable with," Jessie Bates told Q13 FOX News
in Seattle. "We're gonna be recovering financially from this for the next 20 years."
Almost half of states
have laws in place requiring homesellers to disclose if a house has been used as a meth lab. Unfortunately, that law wasn't in place in Washington when the Bates moved into their home in 2007.
And the unfortunate scenario of moving into a former meth lab isn't uncommon. All over the country, authorities shut down thousands of residential meth labs every year. According to the DEA, 10,287 meth labs were seized nationwide in 2011. Several states do not yet have disclosure and decontamination regulations, meaning there is very little legal recourse for homeowners stuck living in a toxic house.
The lesson? Test for chemical contamination, in addition to a regular home inspection. It only costs a couple of hundred dollars and could end up saving you hundreds of thousands in the future -- and your health.
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