Methamphetamine can be harmful to those who use it and potentially to others (especially children) who live with them while they are using. Manufacturing methamphetamine in a house can also be hugely damaging to the health of inhabitants, due to the toxic chemicals that are used in the manufacturing process.

In contrast, the health implications of living in a house in which methamphetamine has previously been smoked (but not manufactured) have not yet been properly assessed and are believed by some scientific experts to be very low – probably similar to the health risks of living in a house in which cannabis or tobacco have been previously smoked.

Nevertheless, there is currently huge public concern in New Zealand about the potential dangers of living in a house in which methamphetamine has been smoked. This has not arisen out of health concerns raised by the medical or scientific establishment, as one might expect. Instead, it appears to have been driven by Housing New Zealand’s ‘zero tolerance’ approach to tenants taking drugs in their properties, by the media response to that, and by the methamphetamine testing and remediation industry (which has a financial interest in raising the profile of methamphetamine use as an issue).

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