MAPLE VALLEY, WA (KIRO/CNN) – A Washington family with three young children was forced to evacuate their home 10 days after they moved in because it was contaminated with dangerously high levels of crystal meth.
Jason and Amanda Gates considered themselves lucky after they found their dream home in Maple Valley, WA, but then, a neighbor happened to mention the prior occupants could have used meth.
The couple decided to have the home tested. They thought the test would be negative, but they wanted to be sure since they have a newborn and two older children, ages 5 and 7.
But the results came back positive.
Traces of the drug were so high it was dangerous for the family to breathe the air inside the home. Some of the highest traces came from the 5-year-old’s bedroom, and his toys and glasses needed to be thrown away.
Meth can cause health problems for adults and developmental issues for children.
The family was forced to evacuate their new home immediately.
"We were horrified. I can't believe this is such a serious issue, and it's not covered in the home inspection,” Amanda Gates said.
The home had been auctioned off after a foreclosure, and state officials say they’re hearing about more contaminated homes, especially with rental or foreclosed properties.
However, quantifying how many is tough because there’s no required testing to move in.
"Everyone we talk to, they're like, ‘What if this is in my house?’ How would you even know?" Amanda Gates said.
The couple had no idea there was a history of drug use in the home, so they never thought to get it independently tested for meth.
"It's a real issue, and it's not something that your normal, average, everyday buyer would ever think about,” Jason Gates said.
Fixing the problem will be costly for the family because the home needs to be stripped down to the studs. Cleaning and repairs will cost upwards of $11,000.
If they can’t raise the money, the family won’t move into the home.
Friends of the family started a GoFundMe to help with the expenses.
Jason and Amanda Gates say they hope homeowners and renters consider purchasing a $50 meth testing kit online. Experts told them toxins from meth can linger even after just using it once.
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