Methamphetamine testing first became important in New Zealand with the discovery of highly contaminated properties that had been used to house clandestine labs for manufacturing the drug. The Ministry of Health produced guidelines related to this in 2010, which included recommended levels of methamphetamine that could be left in a property where a clandestine lab had been discovered after it had been decontaminated. Until recently, these were the only methamphetamine guideline levels available in New Zealand
In 2016 Standards NZ formed an advisory committee to help prepare standards that would apply to properties where there has been use (but not manufacture) of methamphetamine. As an input to this, the Ministry of Health commissioned a report from the Crown Research Institute ESR which studied the health risks associated with methamphetamine residues in properties. This report was released in October 2016, and can be accessed from the Ministry of Health website by following this link.
In June 2017 Standards NZ released the new Standard NZS 8510 . You can access this via the Standards New Zealand websit by following this link.
Why Test For Methamphetamine?
The ESR report concluded that there are health risks for people exposed to residues of methamphetamine – particularly infants and young children. Knowing the levels of methamphetamine in a property allows you to quantify this.
Also, it can be expensive to clean up properties with high residue levels. A test will help you understand any implications there are on property value arising from residues in that property.
- If buying or selling a property.
- As a landlord, at the beginning and end of tenancy in rental properties.
- As a tenant, when moving into a rented property if there are concerns about possible residues in the property.
How To Collect A Sample
Sampling is a very important step in the testing process, and is best done by trained and experienced samplers. Please see our Find A Sampling Service page for samplers offering services in different parts of New Zealand.
There are training courses available for people interested in learning about sampling. Click here for details of training organisations you can contact about this.
Some organisations use an on-site device or kit to sample and provide an immediate result. You should ask about how these devices have been validated, and if there is evidence of residues being present a laboratory based test should be carried out as a follow up.
The ‘gold standard’ for testing is a laboratory based test where a single sample taken from one area of a house is tested. The result of this test can be directly compared with guideline levels. This sort of testing is referred to as Individual or Discrete testing.
Individual testing can be expensive though, with a typical property needing 10-15 samples to be taken to cover all the areas in the property. A lower cost way of initially screening a property for residues is to use a composite testing option, where samples from a number of areas are combined into a small number of samples for analysis. Analytica offers a Field Composite and Laboratory Composite options. A high result in a composite sample will mean Individual Testing will be needed to work out which areas need remediation.
More information about testing options is available on our Testing Options Explained page.
Results of testing should be compared against relevant guideline levels. The person who has collected your samples should be able to help you interpret them.
The guidelines apply to Individual samples, and can be summarised as follows:
- 1.5 µg/100cm2 for high use areas (higher risk of exposure)
- 3.8 µg/100cm2 for low use areas (Lower risk of exposure)
Your results may also include 3 other compounds – amphetamine, ephedrine, and pseudoephedrine. These are normally low or undetected. They are linked to manufacture of methamphetamine, and if any of them is present at a level >10% of the methamphetamine concentration this may be evidence of a clandestine laboratory. Your sampler should be asked for advice on this.
If you suspect a clandestine lab is operating in a property, please contact the police. Visit the New Zealand Police website for information about Methamphetamine and the Law.
Rental property owners and property managers can find information on their obligations as landlords on the Tenancy Services website.
It is increasingly common practice for purchasers or sellers of properties to include a methamphetamine test as part of the conditions of sale. Ask your Real Estate agent for their policy on this.