Recently one of the country’s top scientists has released findings which recommend people do not test their homes for methamphetamine.

The study by the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor Peter Gluckman found that New Zealand authorities had made a “leap in logic” setting standards. Essentially, a level of 1.5 micrograms per 100 cm2, used overseas to measure what “meth labs” should be cleaned to, was now being adopted and used in New Zealand in as the trigger standard to start cleaning, despite there being no evidence of health risk at this level.

Gluckman said testing and cleaning still made sense when there was suspicion that methamphetamine had been produced on a property – but this was more to do with reassurance.

He said a “moral panic” around cleaning and remediation had occurred only in New Zealand. If science had been involved earlier in the policy-making process this could have been avoided.  Mould was a much larger health risk to tenants than meth residue.

In response to the recommendations, Housing Minister Phil Twyford has announced new and less stringent standards will be set for houses within the next year – with Housing NZ immediately changing its policy.

The current level of 1.5 micrograms per 100cm2 was only useful as a barometer of what to get houses cleaned to after manufacture – not as a trigger to start decontamination, the report said. A measure of 15 micrograms per 100cm2 – 10 times higher – would make more sense as a trigger.

In response, Miles Stratford, director of meth testing company MethSolutions, said the report presented no new evidence and ignored people who had come forward wanting to tell Gluckman about their issues with meth contamination. “You’re never going to find evidence if you don’t go looking for it,” Stratford said.

At Talbot Law, we as construction lawyers and home owners ourselves are watching this development with interest. We believe that it is important for purchasers and landlords to continue their due diligence in relation to property in the meantime.