P, meth, ice or crystal as you may know it by is a highly addictive and dangerous drug. A mixture of amphetamines and house hold chemicals for increased potency, this drug is not something to play with. Not only dangerous for the user, but for the space it is used in. There’s a reason authorities are fitted out in their hazmat suits and masks when they raid a property.
New Zealand has a long meth issue, as the ingredients to make meth are fairly easy to obtain, the key ingredient pseudoephedrine a few years ago being available in everyday goods. Now only available with prescription more P is being imported. But we are still left with many contaminated homes previously used as meth labs and through use of the drug.
Most commonly manufactured into powder, pills or crystals, P is normally heated and smoked to achieve a high. Any remaining chemical ingredients like battery acid, drain cleaner and antifreeze could be released into the air and are so strong - they do not break down. So P is not only dangerous for the health of the user, but also the space in which it is used and manufactured.
A ‘P’ contaminated area will most likely be a household, car or any objects that have been in proximity to someone using meth or making it. The contamination of P is invisible, and isn’t a health danger we can see like mould or other chemical contaminants. The same way you don’t want to be spending too long in a fume filled garage is how you should be thinking about a contaminated house, except with P you usually can’t smell or see anything suspicious.
You will find evidence of meth contamination in any house where:
- P has been used
- P has been created in a makeshift lab
Do I need to decontaminate if P was only smoked inside the house?
Smoking crystal-meth, or even meth powder once will show up in a lab tested sample. Experts have said that meth contamination from smoking will only pose health risks similar to that of tobacco or marijuana, so the risk is lower than if the property was used as a P lab. However this risk is much higher for children or infants as they are more succeptible to the toxins. If a lab test shows up nearing 1.5 micrograms per 100cm2, then decontamination is recommended by the newly introduced meth policy standards in NZ. This is “regardless of whether the properties were involved in the production or use of methamphetamine”. See Chemcare’s infographic regarding average expected levels and what would be considered a high use area.
Surely there are some signs a house is contaminated?
You would be surprised, there can often be no telling signs that a house has had meth in it. The residue is invisible and only testing will confirm the presence of the drug. In a news article from the spinoff, Jackie Wright says you really cannot tell if a house has been just smoked in or used manufacturing P. However, there are telling signs such as if a home has encountered any police raids, or if there are outward signs such as chemical bottles laying around outside. The only way to know is by doing a meth test to determine the levels.
How long does P residue stick around for?
The simple answer, always. The P residue will stick around especially if it was cooked within a household. The chemicals within meth do not break down easily, even from a single use. One Tauranga resident found this out after unknowingly purchasing a house that had been used as a meth lab. But only discovering this ten years later, and the residue was still there to confirm it.
How does that harm humans?
Many of the chemicals from meth production are absorbable through the skin. In most cases, the levels from third hand exposure are low enough that our bodies can handle it by passing the toxins through the liver. But over time, particularly in children it has been seen to cause short term illnesses of sinus headaches, nosebleeds, trouble breathing and mouth sores. Over the past few years you may have heard of home owners discovering their house was contaminated, the only clues being the unexplained health issues cropping up in themselves or children.
Areas that need to be cleaned:
Only hard, non porous items can be cleaned such as floors, walls, doors and counters.
Carpets, curtains, underlay, and exposed insulation would need to be removed fully to ensure no contamination. Ensure after cleaning has taken place that the home is aired out for a few days, as the contaminates will have become airborne.
Other spots that may need to be checked for meth contamination include:
- Ventilation units
- Outside the house, decking or exterior walls around doors.
- Plumbing such as drains, pipes, septic tank.
With the new NZ standard of 1.5micrograms per 100cm2 for meth - we advise all homeowners to have anything at and above this level professionally remediated. It is better to be safe than sorry, especially depending on your situation as either a homeowner, tenant or rental owner.
Rental owners - May be wise to reduce traces of P as far as practicable by professional cleaning prior to new tenants moving in, so you can test during and at the completion of their term to determine any culprits. Otherwise keep looking out for the signs.
Homeowners - Beneficial for peace of mind and re sale value as potential buyers will most likely be deterred by any traces of meth under 1.5micrograms 100 cm2
Tenants - If you suspect meth in your property, best to ask your landlord for a test prior to moving in so there is no reason for them to blame you at the end of your stay.
In recent years police seem to be finding less meth labs, the trend being that more P is imported. Within Christchurch they have reported seeing a shift away from residential property test results showing P levels consistent with meth being manufactured at the property.
P will contaminate your property regardless of the way in which it entered. Using or manufacturing it in a makeshift lab will cause levels to show up when tested. You can do your own DIY meth testing, but it is recommended to get a professional opinion to determine accurate levels. Don't be alarmed if your home does test positive, there may be little to no risk, as there is debate of what levels are even considered harmful at all, more scientific research is needed of this in NZ. Depending on your home or business situation, we recommend you consult a professional before looking into cleaning anything below the new NZ standards.