Meth use hit­ting home

Ellenbrook Advocate - - NEWS -

LIKE smok­ing, meth or ice users are not the only peo­ple whose health and liveli­hoods are detri­men­tally af­fected by the drug.

Aus­tralian fam­i­lies liv­ing in prop­er­ties where meth has been smoked or man­u­fac­tured are suf­fer­ing from health is­sues, with chil­dren and preg­nant women the most vul­ner­a­ble.

The se­vere health risks and dam­age caused by meth residue have forced fam­i­lies across the coun­try to move from their con­tam­i­nated homes, of­ten with nowhere else to go.

Ac­cord­ing to prop­erty test­ing com­pany Meth Screen, meth con­tam­i­na­tion was in­vis­i­ble, had no smell and was a “very real is­sue”, where 20 per cent of prop­er­ties con­tam­i­nated were linked to labs and 80 per cent to meth users.

Di­rec­tor David McHugh said Meth Screen had re­cently tested two prop­er­ties in Perth with “se­vere” amounts of meth residue, in­clud­ing a home in Tuart Hill that tested 50 times over the safe level.

The worst-af­fected ar­eas were the kitchen, din­ing room and laun­dry.

An­other prop­erty in Bun­bury tested 25 times over the safe level, with the high­est read­ings in the kitchen, toi­let and mas­ter bed­room.

A po­lice spokes­woman said WA con­tin­ued to ex­pe­ri­ence a high use of meth, with the most clan­des­tine drug labs found in the south met­ro­pol­i­tan area and the State’s South-West from 2015 to 2017.

The worst-af­fected prop­erty in Aus­tralia that Meth Screen tech­ni­cians tested was in Vic­to­ria.

Mr McHugh said it had meth residue 600 times above the guide­line level and the ten­ant had been liv­ing in the prop­erty un­aware for four years.

A De­part­ment of Health spokesman said un­safe lev­els of residue po­ten­tially put oc­cu­pants of the prop­erty at risk, with tod­dlers, chil­dren and preg­nant women most vul­ner­a­ble.

“Health ef­fects may start with dis­tur­bances in be­hav­iour and men­tal well­be­ing but in higher and/or pro­longed ex­po­sure there can be phys­i­o­log­i­cal and patho­log­i­cal im­pacts,” he said.

Mr McHugh said short-term health ef­fects in­cluded headaches, nau­sea, burn­ing skin, dizzi­ness, breath­ing dif­fi­culty, sleep­less­ness and be­havioural is­sues.

“Long-term pro­longed ex­po­sure to meth residue also in­creases the risk of dam­age to kid­neys and liver and birth de­fects,” he said.

With the lat­est na­tional waste­water study es­ti­mat­ing that more than eight tonnes of meth was con­sumed an­nu­ally in Aus­tralia, and Perth the city with the sec­ond high­est use of the drug per capita, Mr McHugh said it was es­sen­tial to have prop­er­ties tested. Cars, trucks, sheds and garages can be tested.

Pic­ture: David Baylis

Steve Ebbs, from Meth Screen.

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