The Low-Down on Meth Testing

12 Jun 2020

On 29 May 2018, the Minister of Housing announced the findings of a report issued by the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, on ‘exposures, risk levels and interpretation of standards’ in relation to methamphetamine contamination in New Zealand. The conclusion was that it's not worth testing for contamination, as the health risk is so low.

This report has been waved around by the press like a banner sporting the words: 'Meth Testing No Longer Required', but this statement isn't accurate, as there has been no alteration or repealing of the New Zealand Standard 8510:2017 (testing and decontamination of methamphetamine-contaminated properties).

The report doesn’t set a new Standard or determine a new meth contamination cut-off level. It merely identifies, in the opinion of the Chief Science Advisor, a level at which meth contamination from passive exposure or surface contamination because of meth use may be safe from a health perspective.


So What Next?

In response to the media frenzy, on 30 May Auckland District Law Society president Joanna Pidgeon commented that the New Zealand Standard still applies: "A scientist has issued a report but that doesn’t overturn the standard because scientists issue reports all the time. But the national standard is a New Zealand-wide consultation process."

At Arizto, our real estate package includes a meth contamination assessment and report, and based on the current available evidence, we will continue to offer these services for our vendor's properties. Once there is more clarity on the matter, we'll be the first to implement any regulation updates to meth testing into our business, but as the law remains the same, we will keep these services as part of our market leading customer service standard. 


Meth Tests Still Benefit Home Sellers

We're not here to dispute whether meth contamination poses a health risk or not. The bottomline is, if you're selling a house in New Zealand, it's still standard practice for potential buyers to request proof of a meth report. Having one in hand will prove that your house isn't contaminated, and it removes the possibility of buyers driving down the price. Even if they aren't concerned about meth contamination, they can use it to bargain a lower price, so it's in your best interest as a home seller to get your property tested before putting it on the market. 


Understanding Meth Contamination 

New Zealanders are facing an increase in the use and production of meth, with figures showing its availability is set to rise above cannabis. Below are some FAQs regarding meth.


What is Meth?

Methamphetamine is an addictive, illegal Class A drug. It is also known as meth, P, crystal, chalk or ice. Meth is created or ‘cooked’ in makeshift labs that are often called meth, clan or P labs. Meth is a crystal that vaporizes when heated and is commonly ingested by smoking.


What Makes Meth Dangerous?

Chemicals used to make meth are explosive, toxic, extremely flammable and poisonous. Meth use and manufacture puts houses at greater risk of explosions and fires.


How Does a Home Get Contaminated?

Meth contamination is the residue and by-products left on surfaces after meth has been used (smoked), manufactured, distributed or stored within a property. These contaminants can easily be absorbed into building materials, fixtures, fittings and household items.


How Can I Ensure My Property is Meth-Free?

The first step is to check the history of the house and see if any previous tenants or owners had relationships with meth. If you’re still uncertain, you can request a meth test. This includes a visual examination to check for corrosion, staining, and other visual indications relating to drug manufacture, lab screen testing where the tester collects approximately 6-10 samples from surfaces in the property and tests it, and a swab and sample testing, where samples are sent to a lab to be tested. If there is contamination, the tester will tell you which parts need cleaning or replacing.

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