Standard on the testing and decontamination of methamphetamine-affected properties — progress update, November 2016

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At its meeting on 1 November 2016, the committee developing the standard (NZS 8510) received a presentation from the toxicologist who was the lead author of a report to the Ministry of Health.

The report was a review of the Ministry’s 2010 guideline values for cleaning up former clandestine methamphetamine laboratories and was provided by Environmental Science and Research Ltd (ESR), a Crown research institute.

The committee also had an opportunity to discuss details of the ESR report with the lead author, Dr Jeff Fowles. The purpose of the report was to review the Ministry’s 2010 guideline level and provide risk assessment recommendations to the committee preparing the New Zealand standard on methamphetamine testing and decontamination.

The report’s recommendations cover properties used for manufacturing methamphetamine (clandestine laboratories), and provide additional advice on clean up levels in properties where methamphetamine has been used, but not manufactured (non-clandestine laboratories). Recommendations on maximum methamphetamine residue levels (after decontamination) based on exposure risk, include the following.

  • Where a property has been used as a clandestine laboratory, the existing maximum residue level of 0.5 µg/100cm2 in the Ministry’s 2010 guidelines is retained. The ESR recommends no change to this guideline level.
  • For non-clandestine labs (for example, where methamphetamine has not been manufactured but may have been smoked), which are not currently covered by the Ministry of Health’s 2010 guidelines, either of the following maximum residue levels are recommended:
    • 2.0 µg/100 cm2 for properties without carpet
    • 1.5 µg/100 cm2 for properties with carpet.

The committee agreed that these levels would be added to the draft standard that will be released for public comment soon. The draft standard will provide an opportunity for feedback to the committee on the recommended maximum residue levels and how the standard should apply them to ensure properties are properly decontaminated before being reoccupied.

In the meantime, the committee agrees with the Ministry of Health advice that local authorities should continue to be guided by the current guideline level of 0.5 µg/100 cm2 where there is evidence that a property has been used as a clandestine laboratory (for example, uncovered by Police, or evidence of manufacturing exists, such as drug manufacturing equipment and chemicals).

Where a property has been contaminated by use of methamphetamine, but there is no evidence that the contamination was due to manufacture of methamphetamine, the standards committee supports the Ministry of Health advice to use the levels of 2.0 µg/100 cm2 (if carpeting and other soft furnishings are removed) or 1.5 µg/100 cm2 (if carpeting and other soft furnishings are not removed) as an interim guide. The standards committee supports the application of these additional guideline levels as an interim measure for assessing the decontamination of non-clandestine laboratories until further work on developing the New Zealand standard is completed. Further work on the standard includes releasing a draft of the standard for public comment, followed by a review by the standards committee of all public comments, and deciding on any changes that need to be made before reaching consensus on the final content of the standard.

Next steps

The committee meets again in mid-November 2016 to go through the draft standard in detail to prepare it for release for public comment. If you wish to be advised when the draft standard becomes available for comment, please subscribe to our free e-magazine Touchstone.

View the ESR report.

Read the Qs and As on the development of NZS 8510

Other articles on the development of NZS 8510:

Committee appointed to develop meth-testing standard (June 2016)

Work starts on standard for testing and remediation of methamphetamine-contaminated properties (July 2016)

Update on standard for testing and remediation of methamphetamine-contaminated properties (July 2016)

New standard on the testing and remediation of methamphetamine-contaminated properties — progress update (August 2016)

New standard on the testing and remediation of methamphetamine-contaminated properties – progress update (September 2016)

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