Meth testing is the best way to protect yourself from the very real threat of meth residue which can endanger the health of you and your family.
Meth use and manufacture is a real danger in South East Queensland, with the incidence on the rise over the last 10 years. Home buyers, investors and renters should consider the potential of meth contamination within the property they are looking to purchase or currently living in.
Meth residue can cause ill health.
Meth in Queensland
Methamphetamine, also called meth or ice, is an illegal stimulant that looks like crystals, shards, a brown oily substance or off-white powder depending on the form it takes.
The most recent statistics taken on meth labs per state revealed that Queensland contained almost half of all discovered meth labs in Australia. The products used to make meth are toxic chemicals that can contaminate a home for years.
Areas such as Logan, Redland, Yarrabilba and the Sunshine Coast were the areas with the highest drug labs recorded in South East Queensland.
Meth labs in houses
As meth is illegal in Australia, people who want to sell meth must produce it in hidden locations. 64% of meth labs are in residential dwellings, such as houses.
Kitchens and bathrooms are converted into crude, makeshift labs to illegally produce methamphetamine.
The products used to make meth are hazardous and contaminate the surrounding area.
If your property was once used as a meth lab, toxic fumes can contaminate a home for years after the lab is gone.
Dangers of meth
The dangers of meth contamination are very real. This is especially true for children, who are more sensitive to the effects of drugs compared to adults.
Babies and toddlers who crawl along the floor are at an increased risk of ingesting meth residue.
Common symptoms of meth residue exposure include headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, eye irritation, coughing, stomach aches and a sore throat.
The dangers of meth residue are not as extreme if residents have only smoked meth within the property, but the manufacture of meth is what causes dangerous contamination.
Signs of meth contamination
There are some signs that suggest a home was once a meth lab.
Firstly, meth labs have a very specific smell. The ground will generally smell like ammonia, ether, cat urine or rotten eggs.
If the windows are covered up, this can be a sign people are trying to hide something, such as a meth lab.
Meth labs are generally very messy and unclean, so if your prospective home matches this description it might be best to watch out.
Furthermore, if you live in an area known to have a history of police involvement or low prices, it may be worth investigating whether a meth lab was present.
Researching the area, as well as asking local police and neighbours can be helpful to know who previous occupants were.
What to do about meth contamination?
If you suspect that meth has been used or cooked in your potential purchase or rental property, you should seek to get meth testing done.
Meth testing involves a non-invasive swab of the property’s inner wall and they send the swab away to get tested in a lab.
This can be done for one swab in each room to find exactly which room the meth lab was in.
Alternately, you can do an indicative test which is one swab in multiple rooms which only gives a general reading that there is meth contamination somewhere in the house.
There has been a recent push by the state government to have local council in areas like Logan take the responsibility of doing mandatory testing and clean up of properties where meth labs have been.
Depending on your role, your legal obligations can change.
Implications for landlords/property managers
Landlords have a legal responsibility to provide tenants with a safe property.
If a property is found to be contaminated, landlords can be exposed to liability and litigation.
Furthermore, landlords have the responsibility of cleaning up after contamination is found.
Many insurance policies do not cover drug-related claims. Thus, landlords can be forced to pay out of pocket for the expense of cleaning up.
As such, to protect yourself if you are a landlord you should get meth testing done before and after every tenant moves in.
Also, having a clause in your contract that outlines you will regularly conduct meth testing and they will be liable for any clean up costs.
Before you hand over the keys to a new tenant, make sure meth testing is done.
Meth Testing for Tenants
As a tenant, if you suspect that your rental property is contaminated, it is reasonable to have the property tested to see if the levels of residue could be a risk to your health.
Likewise, if you are experiencing unexplained health issues, a meth test in your rental property could identify the cause of your ill health.
Meth Testing for Home Buyers
When looking to buy a new home, you will conduct a pre-purchase building inspection. Prudent home buyers will also consider meth testing.
Meth contamination could be utterly devastating both in terms of the health of occupants and also the financial situation of the owner.