The meth hysteria

Stuff reports:

A bombshell report shows there is no real risk to humans from third-hand exposure to houses where methamphetamine has been consumed.

This means tens of thousands of homes have been needlessly tested and cleaned at the cost of millions of dollars, with some demolished and left empty.

The study by the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor Peter Gluckman found that New Zealand authorities had made a “leap in logic” setting standards. Essentially, a standard used overseas based on what “clan labs” should be cleaned to was now being used as a trigger to start cleaning here, despite no real health risk at that level.

“In the absence of clear scientific and health information, there has been an assumption among the general public that the presence of even trace levels of methamphetamine residue poses a health risk,” Gluckman said.

“There is absolutely no evidence in the medical literature of anyone being harmed from passive use, at any level. We can’t find one case.”

A very persuasive report.

In response to the recommendations, Housing Minister Phil Twyford has announced new standards and less stringent standards will be set for houses within the next year – with Housing NZ immediately changing its policy.

The current level of 1.5 micrograms per 100cm2 was only useful as a barometer of what to get houses cleaned to after manufacture – not as a trigger to start decontamination, the report said.

A measure of 15 micrograms per 100cm2 – 10 times higher – would make more sense as a trigger.

Gluckman said he wouldn’t be worried about “toddlers crawling around on the floor” until the residue reached the level of several hundred micrograms per 100cm2 – not the current standard of 1.5 – and this was based on a 300-fold safety buffer.

He stressed the government’s recommendation was still very far below a level where it could become dangerous.

“We’re looking at a 1000-fold safety factor minimum in our recommendations, for a naked toddler crawling around the floor licking every bit of the floor up to several hours a day,” Gluckman said.

Heh toddlers will possibly do exactly that!

Miles Stratford, director of meth testing company MethSolutions, said the report presented no new evidence and ignored people who had come forward wanting to tell Gluckman about their issues with meth contamination.

“You’re never going to find evidence if you don’t go looking for it,” Stratford said.

“What we’ve got is a whole bunch of scientists who can’t agree and a report that aligns with Government policy.”

Research analyst Anne Bardsley at the advisor’s office, who worked on the report, rubbished this claim, saying she reached out many times to try and find the evidence behind the “real world” cases companies came forwards with.

“It always fell apart,” Bardsley said.

Stratford said more research should be done and jumping to conclusions based on the current science was “reckless”.

Has been a nice earner for the meth testing companies, but a business model based on paranoia is not a good one.

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