Chief scientist reports on meth-contaminated houses – In the News

The Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor Sir Peter Gluckman has debunked the fears over meth-contaminated housing in a new report, and recommends raising the testing level in houses where manufacture is not suspected.

The report, commissioned by Minister of Housing and Urban Development Phil Twyford, examined methamphetamine residue on household surfaces, potential health risks, recommendations for testing and remediation based on health risk and differences between properties where meth was manufactured versus where it was smoked.

A key finding from the report was that meth manufacture involved a range of hazardous chemicals, and it was for this reason that testing was recommended to enable cleaning to remove the risk from these chemicals. Limits for surface residue levels were then based on indicating inadequate cleaning of a meth lab site, but were not based on the risk of methamphetamine itself.

In the absence of suspicion of a meth lab, Sir Peter recommended a precautionary approach with higher testing levels to identify contamination from very high levels of smoking.

At a briefing for media, Sir Peter said, “in terms of the housing estate, mould is far more dangerous than meth”.

“In the absence of clear scientific and health information, there has been an assumption among the general public that the presence of even trace levels of methamphetamine residue poses a health risk,” he said. “There is absolutely no evidence in the medical literature of anyone being harmed from passive use, at any level. We can’t find one case.”

Housing NZ chief executive Andrew McKenzie has since announced that from today the organisation will apply a new level for testing and decontaminating properties where there has been very heavy methamphetamine use or meth lab activity.

The report has been widely covered by NZ media, including: The meth house is a myth: There’s ‘no risk’ from drug smoking residue, Govt report finds
Public Address: We are, at last, navigating out of the “meth contamination” debacle
NZ Herald: Meth-testing in homes – don’t bother, says Chief Science Adviser Sir Peter Gluckman
TVNZ: No link between third-hand exposure to meth and adverse health effects: new report
Newshub: State houses needlessly emptied where meth previously smoked – report
Radio NZ: Meth house contamination debunked by PM’s science advisor