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Council may review trigger level for meth decontamination

Some closed Christchurch City Council-owned social housing units may be re-opened in the wake of a report which shows exposure to methamphetamine residue does not cause adverse health effects.

Twenty Council-owned social housing units are currently closed for safety reasons because testing has showed they contain traces of meth residue.

But today Housing Minister Phil Twyford released the findings of a report which looked into the health risks of methamphetamine residue in homes.

The report, produced by the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, found that “there are no published (or robust, unpublished) data relating to health risks of residing in a dwelling formerly used only for smoking methamphetamine.”

The report’s findings have prompted an immediate response from the country’s biggest landlord, Housing New Zealand. It has announced that from today it will be applying a new level for the testing and decontaminating of its properties where there has been meth use or meth lab activity.

It will continue to remediate according to the NZS 8510: 2017 standard only in properties where former meth labs or heavy meth use has been determined. If a Housing NZ property tests between 1.5 micrograms per 100 cm2 and 15 micrograms per 100 cm2, decontamination will not be triggered.

Christchurch City Council Head of Facilities, Property and Planning Bruce Rendall says as a significant owner of social housing, the Council will review the Chief Science Advisor’s report and determine whether it should change its approach, which is based on existing standards and guidelines.

“This may mean that units currently closed because of meth contamination could be reopened for use,’’ Mr Rendall says.

The Council actively discourages smoking in its social housing units and the use of illegal substances for health reasons and because of the potential damage that can occur to the properties.

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