One of the most important steps when buying a new home is getting it checked out for meth contamination. But once you know there are signs of contamination, how can you resolve it?
What is meth contamination?
A house that’s been meth contaminated is simply a property that’s been used to cook or consume methamphetamines. The residue of toxic chemicals are left behind and become imbedded in the walls, benchtops, soft furnishings, carpets, and anything else that was in the property at the time.
It’s a big deal for a good reason too. The meth residues and volatile organic compounds can cause major health issues, especially for children. The symptoms of meth contamination illnesses mirror that of usage: anxiety, sleeplessness, irritability, a dry cough, weight loss, dizziness, problems breathing, persistent nausea, and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat. Over the long term, these problems can become chronic.
Complete removal of these chemicals is required in order to have a safe, healthy home. Here at TechClean, we follow the best health and safety protocols and industry standards to ensure a home is completely clean and safe for its occupants.
Step 1: Ventilate
Meth labs need to be aired out, often with blowers and HEPA filters. HVAC systems are turned off to ensure no recontamination.
Step 2: Assess and test
There can be huge variations in what needs to be done to a property. One with a bit of meth smoking might need cleaning and scrubbing in one room, whereas a meth lab may need extensive remediation throughout the entire house.
To save money and materials, we take samples throughout the house. The results of this testing show us where the contamination is and how much contamination exists. This tells us which areas of the house need treatment and the levels of decontamination needed. That may mean there’s no need to remove wall cladding throughout the entire house as it could be a waste of time and money. It streamlines our processes and cuts back on costs for homeowners.
Assessment also requires some considerations:
- If household items have been contaminated, all effort is made to keep irreplaceable items such as photo albums and things of emotional value.
- Some items are very porous, and these are often discarded due to the difficulty in cleaning them.
- Contaminated materials have similar rules to lead and asbestos disposal guidelines.
- Because children are more vulnerable to health problems, their toys and clothing may be more likely to be disposed of.
Step 3: Develop a plan for clean-up
Using the scope of works from the testing, a clean-up plan is developed. This outlines the challenges, risks, PPE levels required, and a waste disposal plan.
Step 4: Remove contaminated materials
If removal of wall linings, soft furnishings, floor covering or benches is required, they are all removed in the initial stages. This is often followed by a period of ventilation.
Step 5: Vacuum
The floors and walls are vacuumed with a commercial grade vacuum with a HEPA filter.
Step 6: Preliminary hard surface washing
Using a specialised detergent solution, all hard surfaces are washed down. Bleach should never be used while cleaning a meth contaminated home, as it may react with the chemicals in the walls and create a toxic gas. The water from this clean may be contaminated and could require specialised disposal.
Step 7: Preliminary hard surface washing
If the HVAC and AC units are deemed to require remediation, they are washed down at this stage. This can be arduous and time consuming, especially if there is ducting.
Step 8: Detergent water washing
Using soap and water, the entire interior is washed down. Starting with the ceiling, we work our way down the walls and finish with the floors. This process may need to be repeated, depending on the severity of contamination.
Step 9: Manage plumbing systems
It’s possible that chemicals were tipped down the drains and into sinks. This can compromise the plumping systems, corrode pipes, and destroy septic systems. These are thoroughly flushed and cleaned.
Step 10: Clearance testing
The house is thoroughly tested again to ensure all traces of methamphetamine and chemical contamination have been removed. Once deemed safe to re-occupy, the house is handed back to the house owners.
This process is not for the faint-of-heart or those not sure of the legal rules around chemical controls and toxicity. It requires good PPE equipment, specialised testing, and cleaning in a very precise and specialised way. If your property has been found to be contaminated, contact us for a quote for remediation. We follow all NZ laws and best practices, as well and having a genuine desire to give you back your home in a safe and habitable manner.