280 state houses test positive for meth

Houses in the predominantly State housing suburb of Cannons Creek, Porirua. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Houses in the predominantly State housing suburb of Cannons Creek, Porirua. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Nearly 280 state houses tested positive for meth contamination in the nine months to December, Housing New Zealand confirmed last week.

It spent about $12 million to $13 million a year on remedial work.

It's feared P-riddled homes could rival NZ's leaky homes disaster, with thousands thought to be contaminated.

It emerged last week that solo mothers with young children were among tenants at a Christchurch state housing development where almost a quarter of homes had been contaminated with methamphetamine in the past nine months.

The new development of 19 houses was built in June last year.

Two tenants have been evicted after tests returned positive for methamphetamine and two more evictions are underway.

In most cases, the tenants were solo mothers with small children, including four toddlers under two.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett said the high rate of methamphetamine was "particularly distressing".

"Any situation where methamphetamine use has been found in social housing is unacceptable, but the number of young children in this case makes it particularly distressing," she said.

Almost 400 Housing New Zealand properties are uninhabitable as a result of P, according to the most recent figures.

Most contaminations are a result of P use, rather than the houses being used as P labs.

In the last six months alone, Housing New Zealand has spent $5.8 million on testing and remediation.

"Housing New Zealand is taking a much stricter approach to detecting and dealing with serious drug use in its properties," Mrs Bennett said.

"Frontline staff are better trained to look out for contamination, use and manufacturing. If a property is found to be contaminated, the tenancy will be terminated."

Testing properties for methamphetamine and cleaning contaminated ones was costly and time-consuming, she said.

"When we have hundreds of people waiting for social housing, it's disappointing people break the law and deprive others of homes."

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-What are the chemicals in P that are so toxic?

- Common household chemicals include flammable and volatile solvents like methanol, benzene, methylene chloride and toluene.

Methamphetamine is a stimulant and releases high levels of the brain chemical dopamine -- stimulating brain cells, enhancing mood and body movement.

It is also a neurotoxin, which damages the neurons that produce the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotine.

- Causes hallucinations, paranoia, aggressive/ violent behaviour, convulsions, increased heart rate and uncontrollable movements like twitching and grinding of teeth.

-Why does chemical contamination linger?

- The strong kinds of chemicals used for cooking the drug can mean residue can remain.

- How can you tell a P house?

Strange smells, fumes and vapour coming out of windows, ventilators or sealed windows and doors.

- NZ Herald

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