Authoritative information that clarifies health concerns relating to third-hand exposure to methamphetamine residue is now available.
This information is contained in a May 2018 report by Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, which found no evidence of health risks from third-hand exposure to methamphetamine smoking residues on household surfaces.
What is methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine, meth or P is a powerful and addictive illegal drug. It can affect the health of people who live in a property where it has been produced or smoked in large quantities.
REA strongly encourages licensees to read the report by the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, which provides important background information on methamphetamine in New Zealand. The report stated that there was little reason to test a property for methamphetamine contamination unless there was a strong suspicion that it had been used for methamphetamine production or there had been very heavy use.
If your clients have questions about methamphetamine contamination, direct them to the information on settled.govt.nz.
Your disclosure obligations
- Methamphetamine contamination of 15 micrograms (μg) per 100 square centimetres (cm20 or above is considered a property defect that must be disclosed to potential buyers (rule 10.7 of the Code of Conduct).
- You do not have to disclose test results below 15μg per 100cm2 unless specifically asked by a prospective buyer or where a prospective buyer has clearly shown an interest in methamphetamine contamination (rule 6.4 of the Code of Conduct).
Disclosure is not required where:
- methamphetamine has only been used at the property and the property has been successfully remediated back to below 15μg per 100cm2
methamphetamine has been produced or manufactured at the property and the property has been successfully remediated back to below 1.5μg per 100cm2.
You should discuss the issue with your vendor before making any disclosures.
Guidance on meth contamination
- A property that tests below 15μg per 100cm2 is considered safe to live in, with no adverse health effects.
- The report found no evidence of adverse health effects from third-hand exposure to methamphetamine smoke residue on household surfaces below 15 micrograms per 100cm2.
- Methamphetamine that is inhaled or absorbed through the skin leaves the body within about a day. Residue levels on household surfaces also diminish over time, so a person is not exposed to a constant dose every day.
- The level of 15μg per 100cm2 still includes a large safety buffer.
- The report also found that there was little need to test for methamphetamine contamination unless there was strong suspicion or information from Police or forensic experts that a property had been the site of production or heavy use of methamphetamine.
- If a vendor or prospective buyer wants a property to be tested, it is important to make them aware that the methamphetamine testing industry is not currently regulated in New Zealand. The report notes that composite field testing, where multiple samples taken throughout a property are combined into a single sample, can lead to false impressions of high levels of contamination. This type of testing is not recommended.
- Remediation back to 1.5μg per 100cm2 is only required where the property was used for methamphetamine manufacture involving solvents and other toxic chemicals, as the methamphetamine reading is used as the marker for these other toxic chemicals. These chemicals are not usually used in methamphetamine production now.
- Remediation to below 15μg per 100cm2 is required for a property where only methamphetamine use took place.
The new guidance and the findings in the report do not alter decisions already made by Complaints Assessment Committees or the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal (READT).
Last updated 7 June, 2018