What is meth?

Methamphetamine is an extremely powerful man made addictive psycho stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It goes by different names such as:

  • P (pure)
  • ICE

Methamphetamine is a class A drug under the “Misuse of Drugs Act“. 


How is methamphetamine used?

Methamphetamine can be snorted, injected, ingested and inhaled (smoked). Inhalation or smoking of the drug is the most common way in which the drug is taken. Meth can be “smoked” from a glass pipe or even a broken light bulb!

What are the signs

The visible indications of a user can be numerous and vary greatly from person to person. However, some common signs may include:

  • Weight loss from lack of appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Rapid speech
  • Paranoia and unusually aggressive behaviour
  • Itchy skin often leading to sores and lesions
  • Poor oral hygiene and tooth loss
  • Staying awake for long periods
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Dilated pupils


How is meth manufactured?

Precursor drugs and catalyst chemicals are combined in a recipe for conversion into Methamphetamine. There are numerous “recipes” for Methamphetamine.  A “bake or cook” can take a few days or as little as a few hours to produce the drug. The manufacturing process can be found in large industrial scale laboratories to small mobile operations which can be set up and dismantled in a house within a very short space of time.

Meth Labs have been discovered in industrial units, private/rental homes, bach’s/holiday homes, vehicles and caravans. 

Many different carcinogenic, poisonous and acidic chemicals can go into the manufacturing process. Some of the most commonly found of these are:

  • Acetone (nail polish remover)
  • Lithium (found in household batteries)
  • Toluene (paint thinners and octane boosters)
  • Sulphuric acid (vehicle battery acid)
  • Sodium Hydroxide (Drain cleaner)
  • Pseudoephedrine (cold & flu medication)

How does a property become contaminated by meth?

The manufacture or use of the Methamphetamine produces a residue which is left behind on and sometimes in a properties surfaces.

This residue can contain the drug itself along with chemical elements that are used in the manufacturing of the drug.

How do I know if a home is contaminated with Methamphetamine? What should I look for?

It can often be very difficult to visibly tell if a property is contaminated by Meth. The residue is often invisible and can only be found through the taking of samples and subsequent testing at a laboratory. Often a professional sampling/testing or decontamination specialist will rely on corroborating evidence found at the property to determine how the contamination occurred. Evidence of drug related activity is often removed from a property by the occupants for obvious reasons, there are heavy penalties for anyone caught manufacturing, supplying and possessing Methamphetamine.


However, some visible signs may include:

  • Discolouration of surfaces in and around the property
  • Disturbed grounds, burn piles on the section
  • Excessive CCTV and blacked out windows
  • Excessive collections of fans, portable heating elements, bottles and tubes
  • Chemical containers, cold and flu packaging etc
  • Drug paraphernalia such as small plastic “zip lock” type bags know as Point bags, hypodermic needles, glass pipes or broken charred glass or foil.

I want to have a house tested for Meth contamination. What is the process ?

On the 29th June 2017, a New Zealand standard for Testing and decontamination of methamphetamine contaminated properties (NZS8510:2017) was released. Although the standard is voluntary, it is widely regarded as “best practice” for the industry.

The infrastructure for the standards implementation into the industry is currently still in the development stages. However, sampling and decontamination companies should be closely following the standards procedures. It is important to question the sampling company’s procedures to ensure they are following the NZS8510:2017 standard. 

A Meth testing technician is referred to as a “Sampler”. The technician will visit the property and take samples from various surfaces. The collected samples are then sent to an independent laboratory and are tested to determine the presence or absence of Methamphetamine residue. This is often referred to as an initial screening of a property. There are currently three “standards” approved methods of initial screening:

  • Individual discrete samples: A separate sampling kit is used and tested for each room of a property. This method is rarely used to determine the presence or absence of meth as it is expensive to have each sample tested individually.
  • Laboratory composite: This process involves the taking of separate samples (as above) but the samples are composited/combined at a Laboratory to produce an averaged result. This method helps to maximise the sampling coverage whilst greatly reducing the lab fee making it more affordable. A maximum of 10 samples can be composited together. These samples are held at the lab for a period (usually a month) and can be re tested as individual samples later.
  • Field composite: Up to 5 individually taken samples are taken and added into a single container(tube). The lab then tests the samples as one. The field composite sample then represents an accumulation of the samples.  

According to NZS8510:2017 standards, the use of screening technologies usually referred to as pregnancy/instant result test kits should be validated. This effectively means they should be proven to be reliable and fit for intended use before being relied upon as an accurate means of determining the presence or absence of meth.