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The implications of changes to Methamphetamine testing Legislation
Screening for Methamphetamine or P Contamination.
On the 29th June 2017 NZS 8510 was introduced – its sets a new Standard for the testing and decontamination of methamphetamine contaminated properties. Previously we were guided by the Ministry of Health safe guidelines for a clandestine methamphetamine laboratory.
The Standard is well overdue and sets a new methodology for suspected property (which can also include caravans, cabins, and even cars!) by providing scope and guidance for screening, sampling, and testing, together with measures to manage risk to health, safety and the environment. It also contains good practice procedures and criteria for decontaminating these properties, and provides post-decontamination actions necessary to provide a clearance certificate. It does this by putting in place clear reporting and documentation requirements, and provides information and certification that supports processes such as validation, assurance and auditing by screening, sampling, testing, and risk assessments.
The principle changes that have occurred in this Standard when compared to the older Guidelines include:
- Mandatory detailed assessment report required where a screening assessment provides evidence of property contamination
- Screening samples to include all high-risk areas in a property – note that this will now typically require a minimum of 10 samples +
- A site assessment for evidence of operation of a clandestine meth lab
- Repealing of the old 2.0ug / 100 cm2 threshold recommendation for solid flooring
- Recommended new threshold for low risk areas of 3.8ug / 100 cm2 such as subfloor and ceiling spaces
- The requirement to collect background information to identify the number and location of exhaust fans on the property, recent renovations that may have occurred, copies of any reports on previous inspections, on-site waste water systems, etc.
- Mandatory requirement for field blanks to be taken for every 20 samples taken to ensure sufficient protocols are in place and being taken to prevent cross-contamination
- Increased reporting undertaken to identify sampled areas
- The requirement for a detailed assessment prior to decontamination being undertaken
- Prescribed steps for the decontamination process with the objective to reduce the methamphetamine contamination levels in the property so that they do not exceed the limits in the Standard
- The requirement for a post decontamination report, a clearance report, and certificate.
- The requirement for the owner and occupant of the property to be provided a copy of the methamphetamine testing results and reports
One of the new changes in the Standard is that the screening, sampling, and testing is to be undertaken by an individual or company completely separate and independent of the decontamination company. This in itself is refreshing as we have previously been aware of pricey decontamination quotes being undertaken to a poor level with a ‘clean bill’ of health issued on completion by the clean-up company.
In a recent case, we were asked to provide an independent assessment (by the vendors lawyer) after decontamination cleaning had been undertaken and supposedly remediated. Our testing revealed substandard work and it then took a further 3 attempts by the clean-up crew to achieve the required results! This Standard seeks to prevent a conflict of interest occurring where the sampler and cleaner are essentially one and the same.
Another requirement of NZS 8510 is that the property owner and tenant should receive copies of the test results and reporting. This provides for greater transparency with landlords now unable to ‘hide’ bad test results from their tenants. One property we inspected last week the tenant was horrified to find the house she was renting was severely meth contaminated. Landlords should take note that the Residential Tenancy Act now contains the provision for tenants to claim against the landlord for financial costs including rent paid where the property is contaminated – just another reason all prudent landlords should have their properties professional inspected and assessed prior to occupation by a new tenants.
NZ House Surveys, has now implemented this new Standard and are now guided by NZS 8510:2017, providing accurate sampling, comprehensive reporting and testing results backed up by an IANZ accredited laboratory. For more information go to www.standards.govt.nz/our-services/faqs/nzs-85102017-q-and-as/
If you require Methamphetamine testing to New Zealand Standards, give us a call today and one of our team will be happy to help: 0800 487 884.