Earlier this year, the government brought out a report around meth testing which suggested a change to the current safe concentrations of meth in properties, taking the maximum concentration from 1.5 micrograms per 100cm2 to 15 micrograms per 100cm2. Since then opinions and suggestions within the report have been reported as to why meth testing is NOT worthwhile. Here is just a few of them and our responses to them.
The media:"There's 'no risk' from drug smoking residue"
The aptly named Gluckman report suggested that high level of use (at or exceeding 15 micrograms per 100cm2) would be a more appropriate, risk based model for a maximum safe threshold. The report does not say that there is "No Risk", only that a low risk can be associated with concentrations at 15, let alone 1.5 from meth testing.
The Gluckman report suggests that where 15 micrograms per 100cm2 is exceeded in any meth test, it should be cleaned back down to 1.5 micrograms per 100cm2 as per the standard, not just below 15 micrograms per 100cm2.
Jackie Wright, a public health researcher at Australia's Flinders University completed a PhD into the health effects from meth labs has said there is documented health effects from meth residues at levels as low as 2 micrograms per 100cm2, and that the levels did not depend on whether the house was used as a meth lab or had only been smoked in.
Jackie Wright has said that she contributed to the Gluckman report, but had been widely ignored. In addition, various other research papers, regulation and guidelines around meth testing conducted in the United states have not been considered.
This is far from an open and shut case and much more scientific research is required to accurately determine the effects of long term (which is not even considered in the report) and short term third hand exposure to meth and meth labs.
The Gluckman Report: You only need to meth test your property if the police have advised you it was used to manufacture methamphetamine, or if you have good reason to suspect very heavy use in the property.
Police statistics suggest that they are involved in less than 10% of the total drug lab related activity in New Zealand, but don't worry about the 90% of drug labs in operation because... science.
If professionals, specializing in drugs and drug labs only find 10% of the active meth labs in the country, what chance does the average person or landlord have in detecting heavy use or manufacture of meth.
The Drug Foundation: If you're worried, clean your walls with "any standard detergent" and "give the place an airing out".
Unless the meth contamination is very new, your conventional cleaning will have little to no effect on the amount of residues present. Also, unless you plan on airing out the house for 10 years, it won't make any measurable difference.
There's a reason that specialist meth decontamination companies cost so much to contract and take such drastic actions to achieve low levels of methamphetamine. Meth can be very hard to remove and requires specialist chemicals and comprehensive coverage to be effective.
Cleaning meth labs can also be very dangerous due to the potential for adverse reactions between the cleaning chemicals and any by products created during the process which can create noxious gases.
The Gluckman Report: recommends an initial screening method called a rapid test, which can be purchased online and carried out by any home owner.
Here at MethSafe, we've had plenty of dealings with "Instant test kits", and we even did an article about it. See here Since that article, we have run into a severe case which demonstrated just how ineffective these meth testing kits are. So ineffective it seems, that the kits used were unable to detect any concentrations of methamphetamine in a meth lab at all.
When laboratory meth testing was conducted, we discovered concentrations in the the 100's of micro grams per 100cm2 throughout the entire property and even concentrations as high as 400 micro grams per 100cm2. In addition, there was multiple lines of evidence of manufacture such as dumping, burn pits, high concentration precursors and other indicators. All it took to fool an instant test kit was 1 layer of paint.
We live in the real world, not an academic world
The unfortunate situation is that people who have academic understanding (mostly those who do not) have little to no physical understanding of how it works in the real world (meth testing and meth exposure). MethSafe has been in the field for 3 years doing meth testing all over the country and one thing has stood out to us over all else and that is the lack of correlative academic understanding of meth exposure & meth testing with that of the real world.
We believe that meth testing is still worthwhile and the fact that people are continuing to meth test (in large numbers) for pre purchase, rental properties and for health is confirmation of that believe. These people want security and protection from the unknown. They also want to manage their rentals by doing preventative maintenance of the property, reducing the chances of meth use and manufacture and holding those accountable.
Considering most meth testing services these days run in the hundreds, and not thousands, you've got a lot to gain and very little lose.