When someone produces or uses illegal methamphetamines in homes, sheds, garages, trailers, and businesses—places where other people live, sleep, eat, and work—these areas are left contaminated with potentially dangerous levels of toxic chemicals.
Exposure to these chemicals may cause symptoms similar to those experienced by meth users, including nose and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and breathing difficulties.
As a result, the property has to be decontaminated before people can continue to use it.
The health department regulates the use and decontamination of properties contaminated by dangerous chemicals, but does not conduct testing or decontamination work itself.
Before you purchase a property, or if you suspect your existing property may be contaminated, we recommend that you test the property for chemical contamination. The health department does not conduct sampling or testing, but we can refer you to a list of certified decontamination specialists who can.
Q: How do I test for chemical contamination?
A: A methamphetamine residue sample is swiped from every room in the house, as well as the ventilation system, and then submitted to a laboratory qualified to run the test. If these samples show residue over the limits specified in our regulation, the property is considered contaminated.
Many home inspectors, home building supply stores, and other companies offer test kits or services. Results from these tests may be useful as a screening tool to determine if more testing is necessary, but for enforcement purposes we can only accept results from a test performed by a certified decontamination specialist.
Q: What happens if my property tests above the legal limit?
A: When a property tests above the legal limit when tested by a certified decontamination specialist, or if law enforcement refers a property to the health department after an illegal methamphetamine incident, the health department is legally required to close the property to entry until it has been decontaminated and tests below the legal limit.
Q: Why is my property closed and when can I enter it?
A: Contaminated properties present a health threat to anyone who enters the structure, so they are closed to entry with a red health department placard. Only authorized decontamination personnel may enter these properties, and only for conducting a preliminary assessment or performing permitted decontamination work; no other entry is allowed at any time.
Q: What does a green “warning” placard mean?
A: Properties that have been tested by someone other than a certified decontamination specialist may receive a green “warning” placard advising occupants that the house may potentially be contaminated, but we cannot verify the sampling methods or test accuracy, so the home should undergo further testing.
While a green placard places no legal restrictions on entry or use of the house, the health department strongly advises consulting with a certified decontamination specialist before entering or using the property.
The health department does not perform decontamination work. We regulate the decontamination work of certified decontamination specialists (and homeowners) to ensure the work is done appropriately.
Q: How do I decontaminate a property?
A: Every property is different, and each has varying levels of contamination, so the decontamination process and requirements will be different for every property.
All decontamination processes require a:
- pre-decontamination assessment
- written work plan approved by the health department (including methods of disposal for contaminated materials)
- permit to decontaminate
- post-decontamination assessment
- final report of work completed
Q: How much does decontamination cost?
A: Decontamination costs vary enormously based on the size of the structure, the level of contamination, and many other variables.
The health department charges a $400 management fee for reviewing the assessments and work plans and for other activities related to issuing a permit to decontaminate.
Q: Who can decontaminate a property?
A: Property owners of record (the person whose name appears on the title as recorded in the County Recorder’s Office) may decontaminate a property themselves, or they may choose a contractor like Chicago Meth Remediation from a list of certified decontamination specialists maintained by the Illinois Department of Environmental Quality.
Be advised that a property owner of record who decides to do the work personally will be responsible for complying with the same applicable local, state, and federal regulations as a certified decontamination specialist. Virtually all property owners find that it is more efficient to hire a certified decontamination specialist like Chicago Meth Remediation rather than learn how to properly carry out the work themselves, and then go through the labor of actually doing the work.
Although we maintain our professional placement on the list of certified decontamination specialists, the health department does not certify nor endorse the those on the list; it is up to the owner to decide how best to decontaminate the property.
Q: What happens after the decontamination process is completed?
A: After a decontamination process, the property is again tested for methamphetamine residue in various locations around the home. If those test results show no residue, or residue at levels below the legal limit, the property is no longer considered contaminated and the health department removes the closed to entry placard. Removal of the closed to entry placard indicates only that the property was under the legal limit for methamphetamine residue at the time of the post-decontamination testing.
This certification list is maintained in accordance with R311-500-11. Individuals on the list have met the requirements of a Decontamination Specialist in accordance with Title 19, Chapter 6, Part 9, Illegal Drug Operations Site Reporting and Decontamination Act and R311-500 and are eligible to be placed on this list and perform decontamination of contaminated property under the Illegal Drug Operations Site Reporting and Decontamination Act. Individuals on this list are also eligible to perform sampling. Certification is valid for a period of two years. An individual must renew prior to expiration of the original date of certification. This certification list is provided by the DEQ as an information item only. Placement of an individual on this list does not constitute an endorsement nor a preference among the contractors