Testing and decontamination of methamphetamine-contaminated properties
Access to NZS 8510:2017 has been sponsored by agencies with an interest in making it accessible for free download
Access to NZS 8510:2017 Testing and decontamination of methamphetamine-contaminated properties has been sponsored by agencies who have an interest in making the standard freely accessible. These agencies recognise the importance of enabling industry, landlords, the staff of local councils, and the public to view the standard online at no charge.
Application of this standard will provide assurance that activities such as screening, testing, assessing, and decontamination of contaminated properties and disposal of their contents are carried out following good practice.
The standard was developed by a committee of 21 experts across relevant industries in the public and private sector. These included sampling and testing operators, decontamination contractors, property investment and property management interests, the insurance sector, local authorities, public health authorities, and laboratories. Central and local government were also represented.
Copyright in NZS 8510:2017 is held by the New Zealand Standards Executive. Standards New Zealand on behalf of the New Zealand Standards Executive has given permission to sponsoring agencies to make the standard freely accessible under copyright licence LN001234. The reader is permitted to view and print the 2017 edition of the standard free of charge (subject to printing costs) for your own use. You are not permitted to reproduce any part of the standards without prior written permission from Standards New Zealand on behalf of the New Zealand Standards Executive unless your actions are covered by Part 3 of the Copyright Act 1994.
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All New Zealand Standards are published as voluntary documents. NZS 8510 provides industry guidance on good practice methods in the testing and clean-up of meth contamination in houses. It’s a standard for voluntary use as it is not cited in legislation or regulations.
The purpose of the standard
The standard addresses the need for guidelines on methodologies, procedures, and other supporting material required to ensure a safe, consistent and effective approach to managing the sampling, testing and decontamination of affected properties.
More specifically, the standard provides guidance on methodologies, procedures, and performance criteria aimed at ensuring the methods of testing properties for the presence of methamphetamine provide reliable results, and the decontamination of contaminated properties is effective, reduces harm, and enables properties to be safely reoccupied.
The standard will contribute to the reduction of risks to the health and safety of occupants and others who may be exposed to methamphetamine contamination. Application of the standard will provide assurance that activities such as screening, sampling, testing, assessing, and decontamination of contaminated properties, and disposal of their contents, are carried out in accordance with good practice.
What the standard includes
The standard will provide guidance on testing properties for contamination as well as methods to assess and deal with risks to health, safety, and the environment from methamphetamine-contaminated material.
It lays out good practice procedures for decontamination of properties to acceptable levels, as well as disposal of materials that cannot be decontaminated.
Information that supports verification processes is included, which provides assurance that testing and decontamination of properties, and disposal of contaminated materials have been effective.
Development of the standard
The standard was developed by a standards development committee of 21 representatives, under the provisions set out in the Standards and Accreditation Act 2015, by which all New Zealand standards must be developed. Standards New Zealand engaged with relevant organisations to nominate representatives to appoint to a standards development committee.
The committee included representatives from sampling and testing operators, decontamination contractors, property investment and property management interests, the insurance sector, local authorities, public health authorities, and laboratories. Central government was represented on the committee by officials from the Ministry of Health, Ministry for the Environment and Housing New Zealand Corporation. Local government was represented by officials from Auckland Council, Hutt City Council, and Local Government New Zealand.
The committee was approved by the Standards Approval Board under the Standards and Accreditation Act 2015. The committee met nine times between June 2016 and May 2017.
The development of the standard followed Standards New Zealand’s robust process in compliance with the provisions of the Standards and Accreditation Act 2015, and aligned with international practice.
The content of the standard was developed by the standards development committee, comprising of 21 relevant industry and government experts. The committee began work on the standard in June 2016.
The first draft of the standard developed by the committee was open for public consultation for two months between December 2016 and February 2017. The standard received high levels of engagement from the public, with 1,269 comments received, all of which were considered by the committee.
The standard then went to the ballot stage where all 21 committee members voted on the standard being passed. Voting reached the required level of consensus on the final standard in the second ballot.
The final standard was then approved by the Standards Approval Board on 22 June 2017, again in line with the Standards and Accreditation Act 2015.
Why the standard was necessary
Prior to this standard being developed, there were no guidelines covering screening, sampling, testing and decontamination of properties contaminated by methamphetamine use. Previous guidelines published by the Ministry of Health in 2010 dealt in particular with clandestine laboratories and the hazardous chemicals involved in the manufacture of methamphetamine, but did not address the contamination of properties by the use (such as smoking) of methamphetamine.
The standard provides good practice guidelines on the testing and decontamination to ensure a safe environment for occupants of a property that was previously used for the making of or use of methamphetamine.
Use of the standard
The standard will be used by methamphetamine sampling, testing, and clean-up/decontamination companies; laboratories that analyse samples taken from methamphetamine-contaminated properties; health, safety, and environmental regulators; property owners, managers, and insurers.
Those who use the standard will be following procedures that have been developed by experts in their fields.
What the standard says about clean-up levels
The standard sets maximum acceptable levels of methamphetamine to guide decisions on decontamination. The level for high-use areas, such as bedrooms, living areas, kitchens, bathrooms, laundries and shed/garages is 1.5 micrograms per 100 cm2 (1.5 micrograms of methamphetamine per 100 square centimetres of surfaces sampled). For limited-use areas, such as crawl spaces likely to be accessed only by adults for short periods of time, the level is 3.8 micrograms per 100 cm2.
After seeking expert advice on exposure risk from Environmental Science and Research (ESR), and the Ministry of Health, as well as reviewing a large number of public comments on a draft of the standard, the committee agreed on the above levels as maximum acceptable levels after decontamination of an affected property.
The standard introduces a two-stage process for sampling and testing for the presence of methamphetamine. This involves an initial screening assessment stage to determine if methamphetamine is present above the limits in the standard, and a detailed assessment stage to quantify the level and extent of methamphetamine contamination in a property.
Clean-up levels for vehicles
A property as defined by the standard includes but is not limited to dwellings (including ancillary buildings such as sheds and garages), vehicles, boats, caravans, mobile homes, and other structures where people may be present for extended periods of time, such as workplaces, hotels, motels and storage facilities. Accordingly, the standard’s maximum acceptable levels of methamphetamine apply to this extended range of properties, including vehicles.
Legal enforcibility of the standard
The standard is available for people to use as a guide to testing and decontamination of affected properties. It aims to ensure consistency, reliability, and competency in dealing with methamphetamine-contaminated properties, and to reduce people’s exposure to harm.
The standard is essentially a good practice guide. It can only be legally enforceable if it is cited in an Act or Regulation. NZS 8510 is currently not cited in any Acts or Regulations.
Funding of the standard development
Funding to develop the standard was granted in 2015 from the proceeds of crime fund under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009, administered by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Cost of the standard
Standards New Zealand operates on a cost-recovery basis, which is consistent with the Standards and Accreditation Act 2015. The costs of developing and reviewing all standards are recovered by Standards New Zealand from agencies or organisations which have an interest in commissioning the standard. Standards New Zealand also charges a fee for users to access standards.
Access to this standard has been sponsored by agencies that have an interest in making the standard freely accessible. These agencies identified the importance of enabling staff of local councils, industry, landlords and the public to access a PDF copy of standard free online.
The standard will be accessible at no cost for one year on the Standards New Zealand website.
When the standard comes into effect
New Zealand standards come into effect on the day they are published. NZS 8510 was published on 29 June 2017, and can be accessed through the Standards New Zealand website.
Lead-in time for testing and decontamination operators
The uptake of New Zealand standards is voluntary, unless they are cited in legislation. There is no specific lead-in time to adjust to NZS 8510. The standard acknowledges that some aspects such as training or accreditation of operators will take time to set up and implement. Other requirements, such as recommended decontamination levels, can be applied immediately.
More information on becoming an accredited sampler
Enquiries about accreditation should be directed to International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ).
More information about validation of screening test methods
Independent validation of methamphetamine screening test methods and technologies is undertaken by ESR (Institute of Environmental Science and Research Ltd), Mt Albert Science Centre, Auckland.
Approved training courses for screening samplers and decontamination operators
The standard clearly signals the need for upskilling in some areas, and it is anticipated that providers of training programmes will respond by establishing appropriate courses and recognised qualifications for both samplers and decontamination operators.
For example, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) has some existing unit standards for people in the cleaning industry who specialise in clandestine methamphetamine laboratory clean-up and remediation operations: see unit standards 26568 and 26569
Garages or sheds as ‘limited-use areas’
No. A ‘limited-use area’ is defined in the standard as an area, such as a crawl space, accessed only by adults and for short periods of time. Limited-use areas have a higher allowable level of methamphetamine because they are difficult to access and unlikely to be accessed by children, so the likelihood of exposure is low. Garages, sheds, caravans and vehicles are ‘high-use areas’ for the purposes of decontamination.
Products for cleaning a methamphetamine-contaminated property
While the standard does not prescribe particular cleaning products to use, it does require, among other things, that cleaning products must be safe to use and not give rise to other hazards such as harmful reaction by-products if the product contains ammonia or a strong oxidising agent (see 188.8.131.52). Cleaning products must also be effective in removing methamphetamine contamination to at least the limits in the standard, otherwise a clearance certificate cannot be issued for the property.
To comply with the standard, evidence showing that a cleaning product is effective and safe to use must be attached to the decontamination scope of work (see 4.3.2). Cleaning product manufacturers should be able to provide information on the safety and effectiveness of their products, along with clear instructions on use, and any health and safety measures that need to be followed both during and after decontamination of a property. Alternatively, an independent, accredited laboratory could be commissioned to confirm whether a particular product meets its claim to be safe to use and effective in treating methamphetamine contaminated surfaces.
Last updated: 23 February 2021