Meth-testing company MethSolutions is focused on reducing the harm caused to tenants and homeowners by people who choose to use and/or manufacture this insidious drug.
We have always held the view that the acceptable levels of meth residues should be as high as they can be without compromising health and wellbeing.
In the absence of any actual research, today’s report has determined that acceptable levels of meth residues in New Zealand should be loosened, to a point where they are far higher than any other report, guidelines or recommendations anywhere in the world.
If these findings are credible, then they should be welcomed – money will be saved and disruption minimised. Unfortunately, the findings in today’s report contradict the collective wisdom of scientists from around the globe who have no vested interest in the result.
Additionally, these findings support the widely communicated views of Minister Twyford. The Government stands to benefit in a direct economic, political and social policy sense from the findings of this report.
Media tells us New Zealand has a shortage of state houses for people in need but changing the level of what they determine to be “safe” meth residue is not the answer, no matter how many more state houses it may free up for occupation.
What other reports have concluded
In Australia, the level remains at 0.5µg/100cm2 for meth residues from use or manufacture, with the Australian equivalent of the Ministry of Health reporting: “The potential risks from methylamphetamine labs are also relevant to contamination derived from the smoking of crystal methylamphetamine.” The level being considered unacceptable for use was part of the Australian 2011 guidelines
And this one, from independent scientists doing research on meth residues (with nothing to gain from what happens in NZ): “Based on our estimates of dermal transfer efficiency, a surface contamination clearance level of 1.5 μg/100 cm2 may not ensure absorbed doses remain below the level associated with adverse health effects in all cases.”
Advice by the NZ Ministry of Health on the back of a report they commissioned from ESR, which was used as the basis of advice supplied to the Standards Committee:
“The recommended levels identified in the report are:
- 0.5 µg/100cm2for houses where the drug has been manufactured (unchanged)
- 1.5 µg/100cm2for houses where the drug has only been used – carpeted
- 2.0 µg/100cm2for houses where the drug has only been used – uncarpeted”
What Real-World Research Suggests
Real-world research has been undertaken by Australian Dr. Jackie Wright as part of her PhD at Flinders University. This identified that children living in a property where the surface readings for meth ranged from 11.7 to 26µg/100cm2 (which is within the level Government is suggesting should be of no concern) had levels in hair follicle tests equivalent to those seen in adult meth users.
The problem with real-world research is that there is so little of it.
So, while experts from around the world say meth residue levels suggested by this latest report should be of concern, this is being ignored, in favour of a narrative downplaying the risks associated with meth by parties with something to gain.
We need to invest in more real-world research to prove that the assumptions that underpin the recommendations in this report are in fact valid. To do otherwise, would be reckless, with the very real potential to place people at risk.
The reason MethSolutions believes meth residue levels should be as high as possible without compromising health and wellbeing is that this basis significantly reduces the costs ie cleaning versus the decontamination of a house. Money should not be spent unnecessarily.
But what if the assumptions contained in this report are wrong?
If people act on the recommendations in this report and the assumptions are wrong, it is likely that the costs associated with addressing the contamination that has been covered over by painting and redecoration, will be far greater than would have been the case, had they been dealt with sooner.
If this advice is followed and actual research ultimately finds it be erroneous, will the Government put its money where its mouth is and provide assurances/guarantees that they’ll fix up the problems bought on by this advice? For example, a person chooses to paint over meth residues rather than clean them, will make addressing these issues far more expensive. Will the government meet these costs?
The Importance of Meth-Screening Tests When Buying Property
Today’s report suggests that people should not invest in meth screening tests. This advice ignores the reality of meth in New Zealand. By way of example, this property had meth residues at levels 100/50 times greater than those the report suggests are problematic. Yet there is no visible evidence of there being a problem. This property was picked up by a screening test.
The Importance of Meth Screening Tests when Managing Investment Property
It is no coincidence that we have some of the highest rates of youth suicide, domestic violence AND meth use in this country.
The nature of meth use means that people are more likely to feed the pipe than their children or the electricity meter. All too often, it’s landlord who misses out, which will be one of the reasons why banks have higher rates for defaults on mortgages in those areas that have the highest rates of positive results of meth.
Parties in NZ who advocate for drug users and have a philosophy that would see all drugs decriminalised have suggested the meth testing industry is a scam. Perhaps these parties don’t own rental properties and haven’t experienced first-hand the damage meth users/manufacturers create. Every week we see the impact of meth users on rental properties and it’s often not pretty.
Our property manager clients report that where they adopt an approach that can hold people accountable for their illegal and anti-social behaviour, they attract better quality tenants who look after the property and provide them with less headaches and lower maintenance bills.
As with the picture above, sometimes the only evidence of damage is the results of a meth test. Proactive management of meth risk adds value to people’s investments and reduces the likelihood that they will be adversely affected by those who choose to use and manufacture methamphetamine.
A Disappointing Report
We are used to seeing reckless behaviour where meth is concerned. We would not expect to see it from the office of the PM’s Chief Scientific Advisor.
An opportunity to invest in real-world research that would give everybody confidence in the resulting advice has been missed. Instead, we have been provided with a report that panders to the economic and social policy direction this government is looking to set.
All New Zealanders should be concerned by this report. Not because of what it says about an industry that is largely made up of well-intentioned people concerned about the impact meth has on our communities, but because of the signals it sends out about this Government’s willingness to wrap up economically advantageous social policy in a veneer of scientific credibility.
In releasing this report, the Government increases the likelihood that honest, hard-working New Zealanders who have chosen to secure their financial futures by investment in property will see their lives ruined by the growing number of people who choose to use and or manufacture methamphetamine, not to mention the health of tenants.
For more information please contact
Miles Stratford, CEO MethSolutions,
09 3200 863, 021 819 345,