In light of the newly released standard for testing and decontamination of methamphetamine-contaminated properties, we have asked our senior meth advisor James Campbell to give his thoughts.
“Meth decontamination exists to protect the health of all in the household, but especially those most at risk such as the elderly, children and the impaired. The misconception is that at low levels, it is safe for most people as the symptoms may not be obvious or chronic. While many living in a home with a level of 1.5µg 100cm of meth or below might not show any symptoms, someone with extreme sensitivities might. If the tenant is suffering from potential symptoms, let’s keep in mind that contamination is contamination. It is still present and illegal activities have taken place.”
What were your thoughts on the 2010 MoH guidelines acceptable level of meth?
0.5µg 100cm was a conservative level of acceptable methamphetamine contamination, pre or post decontamination. There are several risks from a P lab caused by other chemicals, not just the Methamphetamine. Meth is considered to be sticky in the way it clings to surfaces and is adsorbed. So the thinking was - if the remediation was successful in bringing the levels down to 0.5µg 100cm, all the other by-products of meth would be removed also. However, there were some grey areas surrounding what kind of decontamination followed testing. Generally, a contamination level of 0.5 does not justify stripping out building materials, however, this kind of practice did happen.
So, what are your thoughts on the new acceptable level of meth?
The new acceptable level of meth in a property after decontamination has been increased to 1.5 µg 100cm for “high use areas” on an “area-by-area” approach when compared to the 2010 MOH Guidelines level of 0.5 µg 100cm. The inclusion of a level of 3.8 in ‘limited-use areas’ which is defined as “an area that is likely to be accessed only by adults and for short periods of time”, will be hotly discussed, and only time will tell how the industry interprets this. The new level rules out unnecessary decontamination for negligible or low levels of meth, whilst still being conservative enough to ensure the safety of everyone. Over the last ten years, I have seen people badly affected by low levels due to hyper-sensitivity and immunocompromised conditions.
How have clearance certificates been affected?
Another big change in the industry is that a clearance certificate needs to be provided to the client by the decontamination company. This is great as it gives a platform for the decontaminators and testing companies to discuss scopes of work without adding additional costs to the client. It should reduce site visits and unnecessary testing to validate ideas. At the end of the project, the client will receive a portfolio of documents detailing everything and providing a register of any areas that have been encapsulated. This portfolio can stay with the property and keep in-line with the latest H&S policies as contractors completing future renovations on site can be made aware of possible risks.
So has there been any update on meth going on the LIM report?
There’s still the unknown about what happens if meth is discovered, and whether or not this will go on the LIM report. If a property is visited by police under warrant and clandestine activities are discovered, a report will be issued to the local council where the information may be recorded and a cleansing order established if the property is not decontaminated within 20 days. Failure to comply with a Cleansing Order is an offence under the Health Act 1956 and the local council could start legal proceedings against the property owner.
Here we have a link if you want to get a more in-depth understanding of the new meth standard.
Chemcare will adhere to these standards to ensure your property is returned to you in a habitable condition. If you are seeking a reliable decontamination company, give us a call. Be safe, be sure with Chemcare.