Housing New Zealand adopts new level for meth testing and decontamination

29 May 2018

To be attributed to Andrew McKenzie, Chief Executive, Housing New Zealand

Housing New Zealand is from today applying a new level for the testing and decontaminating of our properties where there’s been very heavy methamphetamine use or meth lab activity.

This follows the findings and recommendations of the Methamphetamine contamination in residential properties: Exposures, risk levels, and interpretation of standards (the CSA report), released by the Government today.

The CSA report provides robust, scientific advice from the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor. It found there is currently no evidence that levels typically resulting from third-hand exposure to methamphetamine smoking residues on household surfaces can elicit an adverse health effect.

Using the CSA’s findings and recommendations will mean a greater number of state homes will be available to households in need because we will not be unnecessarily decontaminating at the levels we have been.

The report deals with the health risks of methamphetamine residue in homes, and the need for mitigation measures which are proportionate to the actual problems.

Based on the findings in the CSA report from today we’re moving the level which triggers the need for decontamination activity - if a Housing NZ property tests between 1.5 µg/100 cm2 and 15 µg/100 cm2, decontamination is not triggered.

We’ll continue to test where we suspect meth lab activity or very heavy meth use, and if a property tests higher than 15 µg/100 cm2 and a methamphetamine lab or very heavy use has been identified, we’ll decontaminate in accordance with the current Standards to a level of 1.5 µg/100 cm2.

Housing New Zealand will continue to refer all suspected meth lab activity to Police.

The decision to adopt these levels was made factoring in the findings in the CSA report that they are unlikely to lead to any adverse health effects for our staff, tenants and contractors.

Our position on meth testing and decontamination is we work to the guidelines set by experts in this field and we work to that advice. The CSA report provides robust scientific findings and recommendations on at what point testing and decontamination should occur.

The Government also has advised that landlords and homeowners may choose to take into account the findings and recommendations in the CSA report when making decisions about testing and remediating.

The decision to adopt a new framework also means we can re-let a significant number of houses if they tested under 15 µg/100 cm2so we can house more families and people this winter.

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