FAQs about meth screening and clean up.
What is meth?
Methamphetamine, also known as Meth or Ice, is a powerful, highly addictive drug that affects the central nervous system. It takes the form of a white, odourless cystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol. Meth is usually smoked, but can also be snorted, or can be injected by needle.
Is there a difference between a property used as a meth lab and a house lived in by a meth user?
Contamination levels in a property that has been used as a meth lab are likely to be higher than the readings taken from a house that has been used by a meth user who smokes the drug. If the property has been used for large scale meth manufacture then the contamination may be even higher. However, it is important to understand that a property only requires meth to be smoked inside it approximately 20 times to be contaminated enough to be unhealthy to live in by Australian standards.
What are the health issues directly related to living in a meth-contaminated home?
Chemical residues left behind by meth use are toxic and can cause both immediate and long-term health issues. These can include respiratory complications, allergic reactions, chemical poisoning, severe headaches and nausea, eye and skin irritations, miscarriage or birth defect, and psychological disorders, and children are most at risk to the effects. Children can also experience behavioural problems and sleep pattern changes.
Research into the health effects of meth contamination and the associated health issues are still being conducted but studies suggest that it can be linked to serious respiratory illnesses and even cancer.
How can I tell if my house has been used as a meth lab or smoking meth?
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to see the signs of whether a house is contaminated by meth, especially if it has been lived in by meth users and contamination levels are low.
Some signs alluding to a meth lab or meth use at a property can include:
- Excessive rubbish around the property.
- Increased activity and visitors, especially at night.
- Strong odours, chemical smells, and cat urine odour.
- Windows that appear to be blacked out and covered with foils or plastic.
- Stains or discolouration on walls or floors. Toilets and drains may have stains from the waste fluid that is disposed of from manufacturing meth.
While these signs are only a guide and the warning signs are even more difficult to detect if the house has had a meth user living on the premises. As meth vapour doesn’t leave any odour or visible indication, professional meth testing will deliver a definitive answer and allow you to prepare for the necessary steps to decontaminate the property.
What meth contamination levels are unacceptable for occupants to safely live in a property?
According to Australian laws, meth contamination with levels over 0.5 micrograms per 100cm2 (0.5µg/100cm2) is unacceptable.
Who is responsible to ensure a premises is safe for habitation?
It is the property owners responsibility to ensure their property is safe for habitation. Early detection of a contaminated property makes remediation less expensive. It’s important to remember that detection of meth residue within a property is as important as a leaking roof or termite issue.
Painting a property that has been contaminated by a meth user or used as a clandestine drug laboratory is NOT a cleanup option as paint can only encapsulate the contamination for approximately 5 months.