Landlords have welcomed a new report out today which differentiated between the effects on health of living in places which had been methamphetamine labs compared to those places where the drug had only been used but not manufactured.
Andrew King, NZ Property Investors Federation executive officer, said the report from the Prime Minister's Chief Science Adviser Sir Peter Gluckman clarified the situation between the two different types of properties and the lower risks to health from living where the drug had only been used.
Guidelines on testing for meth contamination in properties were extremely conservative, he said, yet the report was clear about the much lower risk to health of being in places where the drug had only been used.
Ron Goodwin, an Auckland landlord, last year feared a potential $140,000 bill after a Whangaparaoa place he owned was contaminated with meth.
King said the issue generally had resulted in people having huge fears about property contamination yet their health was not necessarily endangered if meth had only been used but not manufactured.
"It seems that a considerable amount of money is being spent on a problem that doesn't appear to exist," King said of remediating places where the drug had been used but not made.
Fears about property meth contamination had caused many people much anxiety, disruption and money, King said.
Yet the expensive process of remediating properties did not necessarily result in any real benefits to residents' or tenants' health for the less-risky properties, he said.
The report said: "There are no published - or robust, unpublished - data relating to health risks of residing in a dwelling formerly used only for smoking methamphetamine. Yet, given the relatively low number of confirmed meth labs found, and the very low average levels of methamphetamine found in most houses that test positive for the drug, most New Zealanders will only ever encounter very low levels of residue that are the result of methamphetamine use. There is currently no evidence that methamphetamine levels typically resulting from third-hand exposure to smoking residues on household surfaces can elicit an adverse health effect."
Testing properties was only recommended where meth lab activity was suspected or very heavy use was suspected, the report concluded.
Remediation of properties was not justified where lower levels of meth were detected.
Phil Twyford, Housing and Urban Development Minister, released the report, saying he was concerned about the anxiety of meth contamination "and a testing and remediation industry has grown up around this".
The widely held perception was that the presence of even low levels of meth residue in a house posed a health risk to occupants, Twyford said.
He said the new report found that remediation according to the New Zealand Standard was appropriate only for identified former meth labs and properties where heavy meth use has been determined.