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3 July 2018

Methamphetamine Contamination

The Government recently released a report from Professor Sir Peter Gluckman on the health risk from exposure to Methamphetamine residues in residential property.

The key findings of the report are that:

  • The rationale for testing is largely to remove the health risk arising from hazardous chemicals associated with the manufacture of Methamphetamine.
  • In general the level of Methamphetamine in New Zealand properties that do test positive is low.  Therefore exposure to chemicals associated with Methamphetamine, and Methamphetamine itself on surfaces, confers an extremely low, if not negligible, health risk.
  • Testing regimes would be best applied using criteria defined by whether meth lab activity is suspected or not, as in the case of most international jurisdictions.
  • In the absence of suspicion of a meth lab, a precautionary approach would be to use a much higher testing level to identify areas contaminated from very high levels of smoking, which might justify cleaning for reassurance purposes.  This would still ensure public safety and reduce signification burden on property owners.
  • As a result, Housing New Zealand is now applying a new level for the testing and decontaminating of its properties where there has been very heavy Methamphetamine use or meth lab activity.  It acknowledges that there is currently no evidence that levels typically resulting from third-hand exposure to Methamphetamine smoking residues on household surfaces can elicit an adverse health effect.  That means a greater number of State homes will be available to households in need because Housing New Zealand will not be unnecessary decontaminating at the levels they have been to date. 
  • The New Zealand Standard 8510:2017 regarding Methamphetamine Testing remains unchanged.
  • The Real Estates Agent Authority issued a media release recently advising that real estate agents must tell prospective house buyers if a property has Methamphetamine contamination of 15 mcg per 100 cm2 or above, and that real estate agents are not obliged to disclose confirmed results below 15 mcg per 100 cm2 unless they are asked. 


It is important for clients to be aware, when purchasing a property, that there may have been some prior use of Methamphetamine.If they suspect Methamphetamine use then they should obtain a report from a reputable testing agency.

For investors who are looking at purchasing residential tenancies, we suggest that they should obtain a report as a baseline marker for disclosure to prospective tenants, and to advise tenants that testing will be carried out from time to time.


The above information is of a general nature only. You should contact our firm for advice relating to your specific circumstance.



John Parkes

About John Parkes

John is a member of our Property Team. He has been practising law for over 35 years. John advises clients on various property matters, from residential and commercial sales and purchases, to major subdivisions.

View all posts by John Parkes