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I bought an apartment and under the old carpets in one room there is this red powder. It is tiny granules, like sand. Here is a gallery of images of the red powder.

I'm very worried now that I heard that some illegal drugs (like meth) can leave red residue.

Can anyone tell me if this does look like illegal drug or other dangerous residue?

I'm getting it tested but I would like to know if it's even safe to be in the apartment in the meantime.

There is not a strong odor to the apartment, it just smells like the previous tenant smoked cigarettes. There is a faint yellow sticky residue on the walls which looks like nicotine stains.

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Get it professionally tested. –  Matt Sep 13 '13 at 3:42
    
did you find that you finished the job way faster than you thought you would? If so, it might be meth. If not, then it is likely just broken down glue and carpet pad. –  mac Sep 13 '13 at 17:48
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2 Answers

I am just viewing a picture but I have pulled up carpet pads on concrete in many a house and it looks like caulked adhesive used to secure the pads to concrete. Sometimes the colors in the pads bleed into the adhesive (the spots in my house were green) and things definitely break down or turn to powder after a while. You should be able to scrape it up - wear some gloves and a mask if you are worried. I will say I had way more green powder on my floor than that.

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Thanks. It was only in one spot in one room. But it did certainly stick the pad to the floor. –  skybreaker Sep 13 '13 at 5:10
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Likely ants or other bug that chewed on the carpet padding to make a home and left the granules behind after mixing it with their saliva. I just caught a colony of ants digging out the foam insulation in my back door and making a nest in it. Took a month to figure out what all the small white granules were every morning covering the floor..

As long as the carpet is up you mind as well buy some mildew resistant caulking and put a very thick bead of caulk around the entire perimeter between the baseboards and the concrete floor to seal any gap. That will help keep the bugs out and has the benefit of reducing heat/cold loss via airflow at that gap.

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I don't think it was bugs and I have never had issues with bugs coming from under the carpet but I have to give a +1 for the caulk idea. If anything it provides a bit of insulation but good idea to tighten up the house. –  DMoore Sep 13 '13 at 16:22
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