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A new standard for screening, sampling, testing and decontamination of properties contaminated by methamphetamine use will provide greater confidence and certainty

New meth contamination and testing standard released

New Zealanders will be able to better manage the risks of methamphetamine in residential properties following the release of a new standard, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Jacqui Dean say.


The highly anticipated NZS 8510:2017 ‘Testing and decontamination of methamphetamine-contaminated properties’ has been released by Standards New Zealand to address public concern on the safety of occupants in houses in New Zealand where methamphetamine has been detected.

The standard provides guidance on testing properties for contamination as well as methods to assess and deal with risks to health, safety and the environment from methamphetamine-related chemicals and contaminated material.

It lays out good-practice procedures for decontamination of properties to acceptable levels, as well as methods of 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.

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.

“The new standard is a huge step forward in helping home owners and tenants deal with the risks of methamphetamine contamination. It will give people greater confidence and certainty, will result in hundreds of fewer properties having to be vacated, and save millions in unnecessary decontamination work,” Dr Smith says.

Clear methods for sampling and testing

The major gain from the new standard is having clear methods for sampling and testing, and competency requirements for samplers and decontamination contractors. The most significant change is the new 1.5 microgram per 100 sq cm limit, as compared to 0.5 microgram per 100 sq cm under the old guidelines. “These were focused solely on the risks of a clan lab, whereas the new standard results from a better understanding of the health risks,” Dr Smith says.

The new standard will form an important part of new legislation introduced to Parliament in May. “The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No 2) gives landlords the right to test for meth and enables tenancy agreements to be terminated when levels are unsafe. The new standard will be referenced in the regulations and will become legally enforceable when the bill is passed later this year,” Dr Smith explains.

“It is quite appropriate that this new standard has been funded from the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009. The damage done to residential properties is just a fraction of the social and economic harm methamphetamine is doing in New Zealand. These new contamination standards and residential law change are a small part of the government’s anti-drug initiatives,” he adds.

Ms Dean says the new legislation and standard are important new additions to consumer protections. “They will help clean up an industry that has had problems over inconsistent tests and excessive decontamination costs.”

NZS 8510:2017 ‘Testing and decontamination of methamphetamine-contaminated properties’ can be found online at standards.govt.nz/sponsored-standards/testing-and-decontamination-of-methamphetamine-contaminated-properties

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