The announcement today that Minister of Housing and Urban Development Phil Twyford will introduce regulations reining in the methamphetamine testing industry is very welcome.
“We are pleased Phil Twyford is taking on board this new advice from Sir Peter Gluckman and pledging to immediately do something about the out-of-control methamphetamine testing industry,” NZ Drug Foundation Executive Director Ross Bell said.
“The panic around exposure to third-hand methamphetamine has grown out of all proportion to the actual risks, as this report shows. This report lays out a strong case for regulations that will safeguard the health of New Zealanders.”
The Drug Foundation has long been critical of both the standard of testing and what constitutes a safe level of exposure when methamphetamine has been consumed in a property.
“The message that testing is only warranted in very few cases needs to reach every kiwi homeowner, landlord, tenant and social housing provider. When this report sinks in, we can expect to see demand for testing to drop right away.”
“For the industry that remains, accreditation of testers is such an obvious way to ensure reliable and accurate test results. When you take this together with a reset of the levels, we should see the panic around methamphetamine exposure die down,” Mr Bell said.
“Some of the testing methods also attract critical scrutiny. The report singles out compound screening practises as the source of misleading results. An update of regulations needs to require much needed scientific rigour across the entire industry.”
Based on the report by the Government’s chief science advisor Sir Peter Gluckman, "Methamphetamine contamination in residential properties: Exposures, risk levels, and interpretation of standards”, a reset of standards is essential. The report states “There is currently no evidence that methamphetamine levels typically resulting from third-hand exposure to smoking residues on household surfaces can elicit an adverse health effect.”
“Since this shameless testing industry took hold Housing NZ alone has spent $100 million over four years for testing and remediation, evicted countless tenants and had properties sitting vacant,” Mr Bell said.
“This has caused unnecessary distress to tens of thousands of tenants in public and private housing, and led to a scandalous waste of money. We never understood why the previous government allowed this situation to get so out of hand.”
As well as evicting tenants, the Tenancy Tribunal awarded costs against some very vulnerable people for ‘contaminating’ their rental home. With the basis of ‘contamination’ now being shown to be bogus, this calls into question the validity of the Tribunal findings. The Drug Foundation is calling for financial relief for tenants unfairly penalised by an eviction or remedial costs.
“The government is in the invidious situation of having to clean up this methamphetamine testing mess after it was allowed to grow under the previous administration,” Mr Bell said.
“For any New Zealander that’s been impacted by runaway meth testing, you can feel justified being outraged.”
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