• Quorum Health

A really sensible article that reviews this whole 'meth testing' debate.

Crystal meth

by Christie on June 1, 2018 at 10:00am published in Whale Oil, NZs leading media blog.

The government has seen the light. In a very surprising turn of events, it has decided that it is unsafe for people to live in damp, cold houses, but it is okay to live in a former meth lab.

Maybe I exaggerate slightly, but we have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous on the question of the safety of living in houses contaminated by methamphetamine. This from Stuff Quote:

Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, chief science adviser to the prime minister, has delivered a report into the acceptable levels of methamphetamine in contaminated Housing NZ homes. End quote.

Chief science adviser to the Prime Minister. That would be the Prime Minister with a housing crisis she can’t solve. How convenient. Quote:

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. Quote.

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.” Gluckman said testing and cleaning still made sense when there was suspicion that methamphetamine had been produced on a property – but this was more to do with reassurance. He said a “moral panic” around cleaning and remediation had occurred only in New Zealand. If science had been involved earlier in the policy-making process this could have been avoided.Mould was a much larger health risk to tenants than meth residue. End of quote. 

Mould can be cleaned off with bleach. If only state house occupants were more fastidious about this, the health problems would be much reduced. So, here is the question. Would you rather have your children in a house affected by mould, or a house contaminated with meth?

I would go mould all the way. It is very visible, and I can do something about it. Methamphetamine? You have got to be joking.

I was going to do some research into this but was pointed towards a comment made on yesterday’s General debate which actually provides the information I was looking for. So, with thanks to “Bossie”, here it what he or she has advised.

The LD 50 of meth is considered around 50 mg/Kg of body weight. An average smoker will inhale between 100 mg and 1000 mg a day, while a binge can go up to 3000 mg a day.
Although this is not a proper scientific study if an adult of 70 Kg, smokes 100 mg of Meth a DAY and gets high, a child of 5 kg can get high on 7 mg a day.
I cannot find a reliable source of milligrams of meth per individual smoking session, but I can safely assume that 100 mg a DAY is at least 2 separate smoking sessions a day, halving the quick numbers above.
The argument can be made that a child will need to lick 100 square cm of floor to get 15 micro gram. 100 square cm is 0.01 square meters, or an area of 10 cm x 10 cm. A child could lick that area easily.
It also ignores that a child crawling on the floor will collect this very easy on their sticky hands, that goes into their mouth a lot. The reality is that although a child does not tend to lick the floor a lot, a 10 x 10 cm patch is very small, and they do tend to have their hands in their mouths a lot, causing their hands to be sticky, and easily pick up residue, that then goes back into their mouth. At a level of 15 micro grams per 100 square cm, a child will need to pick up the residue of a 5 square meter area, roughly the size of a very small bathroom, to get the equivalent of a DAILY usage dose for some users.
Looking at this I would suggest that 1.5 micro grams per 100 square cm is way too high a level, and I will need to see proper research before I will be convinced that 15 micro grams per 100 square cm is safe. End quote.

This is a dreadful policy. This government is putting the safety of children at severe risk, presumably working on the principle that it is better to live in a meth house than to live on the street. I strongly disagree with this, and it will come back to haunt the government within a couple of years, with children falling sick because of contamination.

How they can spin this into an attack on the previous government when they were only trying to keep people safe is totally beyond me.

Peter Gluckman, a paediatrician, ought to be sacked right now for this piece of political posturing, as it puts children’s health at risk. No kind of political posturing is worth that. We have seen articles from meth testers, saying that they knew the levels were too low and that there were no health risks really. My reply to that is – if that was the case, and you knew you were perfectly safe, then why did you turn up for work dressed as if you were attending a nuclear explosion? Why bother with the overalls, the gloves, the goggles if you were okay really?

To say there is ‘no evidence’ of such levels of contamination being harmful is disingenuous. It doesn’t mean there is no harm. It mean we don’t know. There was once no evidence that the world was round. Or that smoking caused cancer. But now we know better.

I will believe that former meth houses are safe when I see a picture of the Prime Minister’s baby crawling on the carpet of a former meth house. Until then, we have the usual problem with this government. A former meth house is fine for the proletariat. But it is not good enough for me.

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