Contamination of residential homes with methamphetamine is an emerging issue of significant concern to public health. Cooking or smoking methamphetamine in a residential property contaminates the house, furnishings, and personal possessions within it, with subsequent exposure through ingestion, dermal absorption, and/or inhalation causing adverse health effects. Current guidelines identifying levels of methamphetamine contamination that require remediation vary between countries. There is also no international standard protocol for measuring levels of contamination and research has shown that different materials give rise to different recovery rates of methamphetamine. There are a number of currently used remediation methods; however, they have varying levels of success with limited studies comparing their long-term efficacies. Most importantly, there are few guidelines available that are based on a transparent, health risk-based approach, and there are many uncertainties on exposures and health effects, making it difficult to ensure the health of people residing in homes that have been used to cook or smoke methamphetamine are sufficiently protected. This manuscript presents the current state of knowledge regarding the contamination of residential homes with methamphetamine and identifies the current gaps in knowledge and priority areas for future research. The current regulatory approach to public health protection associated with exposure to residential premises contaminated with methamphetamine in Australia, New Zealand, and the USA is also discussed.
Amphetamine type stimulants (ATS) are a group of synthetic drugs that include amphetamine, methamphetamine (Ice), and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy). Methamphetamine is available in four forms: a sticky, waxy base; ground, whitish powder; pills; and crystalline shards. While all forms are highly addictive, the crystalline form, also known as ‘ice,’ is the purest form of the drug and therefore has increased potency.Buy meth online is commonly manufactured in clandestine drug laboratories either for personal use or for the illegal drug trade. During manufacturing processes, aerosols are released into the surrounding atmosphere. The airborne residues and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can settle on surfaces, such as walls, benchtops, and flooring, where they can then be transported throughout the premises via air or dermal transfer. Larger scale operations and a number of smaller personal cooking operations have permanent manufacturing locations that may house large volumes of chemicals and equipment, while the smaller setups or “box labs” are designed for short term manufacturing that can be well hidden and packed up quickly for relocation. Clandestine laboratories can be set up in residential properties, hotel rooms, warehouses, and spaces as small as a car trunk. To date, most research has concentrated on residues from methamphetamine manufacturing. However, smoking methamphetamine has also been shown to produce residue contamination though at much lower levels than measured during controlled cooks. Smoking, however, may be repeated on many occasions, resulting in higher levels of contamination.
A common scenario for contaminated properties is that the methamphetamine users or manufacturers vacate the premises and the residues remain within the house. Often, the new residents are unaware of the previous activities. These new occupants are exposed to the residual methamphetamine, and often other chemicals associated with the production, resulting in adverse health effects. Wright et al.found these adverse health effects are diverse and can include behavioral changes, respiratory illnesses, and skin-related responses. Age and the activities of the person exposed can influence the severity of the effects. Symptoms can include irritability, anxiety, sleeplessness, weight loss, persistent cough, dizziness, difficulty in breathing, nausea, and throat, eye and skin irritations. Occupants may not associate their symptoms with contamination in their home, and often investigate other environmental factors, such as mold, pests, vermin, allergies (e.g., hay fever), and contaminated water.