Invisible threat: Could your home test positive for meth?
Tests for Methamphetamine contamination, which is invisible and has no smell, has increased by 35 per cent in the last year with a number of properties testing positive for the drug. Here's what you need to know to keep your investment safe.
Marcelo Marquez from Austclean at Pacific Pines said methamphetamine contamination, which was invisible and has no smell, was a "very real issue" and requests for "meth tests" had increased by 35 per cent in the last year.
Recently, a home at Pacific Pines tested positive to 30 micro grams of meth and required a full clean of the airconditioning, fans and had the kitchen removed.
The entire houses insulation had to be removed and replaced at a total cost of $25,000.
Luckily in this case, the homeowners were insured.
"In this case, there were signs (people were cooking meth) including frequent late night summer nights making fires in the backyard with flames reaching up to three metres," he said.
He said that a large threat to rental properties was not meth labs, but meth users.
"Smoking meth regularly can contaminate a home and regular smoking of the drug can return contamination readings as high as those produced by a meth lab," he said.
"We recommend rental properties to be tested before tenants exit for meth residue if the property manager has any suspicious of smoking or making it.
"Not only does it ensure early detection, when remediation is less likely to be expensive, it also deters tenants from using or making meth in your property."
Australian Environment Protection laws state that meth contamination above 0.5
micrograms in space 100cm square (0.5μg/100cm²) is not acceptable.
Landlords face lawsuits from tenants moving into an already-contaminated property, and adjoining neighbours may also seek legal advice.
Decontamination is required if is meth levels go above 30 micrograms per square cm and can require treating or ripping out carpet, curtains, wall linings, ceilings, electrical wiring, air conditioners, heating and insulation.
While meth residue is odourless and invisible, exposure can cause a wide range of health problems for the property's occupants, including respiratory problems, headaches, behaviour problems in young children, sleep pattern changes, increased susceptibility to illness and eye and skin irritation.
Landlords wanting to keep their investments safe need to have insurance that specifically covers against meth, and do a meth test before every new tenant.
What to look out for:
- Yellowish discolourations on wall, drains, sinks and showers.
- Bluish discolourations on faucets, fire extinguishers and propane tank valves.
- Fire detectors removed from the house or tape covering them.
- Strong solvent odours in the home - odours similar to ammonia or cat urine.
- Bleach stains on the carpet or flooring.
- Dark stains in sinks (yellow, purple or red).
- Burn piles in the yard.
- Graffiti or writing on the walls.
- Closed circuit television cameras inside and/or outside the property.
- Burning in the eyes, itchy throat, metallic taste in the mouth and breathing problems in the home.
- Large quantities of common household items including ammonia, drain cleaner, muriatic acid,
- starting fluid, matches, refrigeration lubricant, alcohol, paint thinner, acetone and benzene can be indicators of meth lab use.