Key Research Not Considered in the NZ Gluckman Report
This report briefly identifies key peer-reviewed research not considered by the Gluckman Report regarding third-hand exposure to methamphetamine residue.
This research was available and provided to the NZ Chief Scientists Office from the PhD Thesis from Dr Jackie Wright (Wright 2016):
Contamination levels that are present in residential properties where manufacturing has occurred:
The Gluckman report has adopted a cutoff of 30 ug/100cm2 as indicative of where manufacture has occurred, also stating that “Former meth labs generally have relatively high levels of methamphetamine residues on sampled surfaces”, inferring that below this it is unlikely that the contamination is from the manufacture. This is not correct.
Data presented by Wright (2016) (Table 2, and also Figures 27 – 29, Table 6) shows other published data, and data collected from 100 homes known to be used for manufacture (i.e. seized by police), that cover a wide range of manufacture methods (which include those used in NZ) clearly show meth residue levels that are from manufacture that are routinely reported below 30 ug/100cm2. It is also known that some other methods (such as the methods for cooking in a pressure cooker that is also used in NZ) result in lower levels of residues.
The inference that only the high levels of methamphetamine relate to manufacture, and lower levels to use, is not supported by any data.
The basis for the methamphetamine guidelines:
The methamphetamine guidelines are based on the toxicity of methamphetamine, and exposure to residues in a home (Hammon & Griffin 2007; Salocks et al. 2009). There is no basis at all for suggesting that the toxicity of methamphetamine derived from manufacture is in any way different from methamphetamine derived from smoking ice. There is no data to support that assertion or assumption in the Gluckman report. In fact, studies conducted by Martyny and his colleagues (Martyny, J 2008; Martyny, JW 2008; Serrano et al. 2012; Van Dyke et al. 2014) regularly use methamphetamine residues deposited from smoking ice as a surrogate for methamphetamine residues from manufacture, as they are deposited in the same way.
On this basis there is no justification to preclude any health studies that relate to exposures to methamphetamine in a home, where the contamination is from manufacture, rather than use.
Health effects associated with exposure to methamphetamine residues in homes:
Wright (2016) (Section8) presents 5 case studies where the source of methamphetamine includes manufacture and/or use, and presents data on surface contamination levels, documents health effects and (in some case studies) presents data on methamphetamine levels within the body (as derived from hair sampling).
Case study 1 (Section 8.2) – relates to a home contaminated from manufacture (not known if manufacture occurred in the house, only known to be in the shed). This is a published peer-reviewed case study (Wright et al. 2017) that clearly shows adverse health effects in all family members, and significant levels of methamphetamine absorbed into the body (particularly for the young children), where surface residues in the home range from 11.7 to 26 ug/100 cm2. This published case study should be considered as it provides evidence of health effects and significant absorption of methamphetamine for people living in a home.
Case study 2 (Section 8.3) – relates to a rental property that was suspected to be used for manufacture (but not known) and use and the contamination was disguised by painting some surfaces (and not disclosed to future renters). The residues reported were generally in the range 0.04 to 1.6 ug/100cm2, with one elevated sample at 42 ug/100cm2. The children (particularly the older teenager who was home all the time) had document adverse health effects. Again, regardless of how the contamination occurred, this information should not have been ignored as it showed health effects at lower levels of methamphetamine contamination.
Case study 3 (Section 8.4) – relates to renovation of a home suspected to have been used for manufacture. This relates to an older contaminated property where remediation as undertaken by painting over surfaces, then remobilisation of the underlying contamination through renovations. The owner experienced significant document health effects. The limitation with this study is knowing the level of contamination in the property as it was not well reported.
Case study 4 (Section 8.5) – relates to a rental property contaminated by methamphetamine, most likely from use. While the tenants were only there for a short time, there were significant documented health effects in the family, and particularly in the children. Residue levels in the home were in the range 7.3 – 8.3 ug/100cm2. This data and information should not have been ignored as it clearly shows health effects in people in a home with meth residues from use.
Case study 5 (Section 8.6) – relates to a rental property contaminated with methamphetamine, known to be from use (with the potential for manufacture suspected but there is no evidence or other information to confirm at all). This study shows a range of health effects in the teenage daughter and mother, with surface residue levels in the range 0.1 to around 20 ug/100cm2. Measurable levels of methamphetamine were also found in the hair for the daughter. There is no basis for the data in this case study to be ignored.
The case studies (a summary is in Tables 29 and 30) above show health effects in a range of individuals exposed to methamphetamine residues below the level of 15 ug/100cm2 suggested by the Gluckman report as a level where there are no health effects. There is no basis for ignoring this information, and there is no basis for ignoring evidence derived from homes contaminated from the manufacture.
Wright (2016) has also presented reasoning, including other studies that are published, that indicate that the way we estimate exposure has probably underestimated intakes, rather the overestimate (as is implied by the Gluckman report). This is presented in Section 9.5. This reasoning should have been considered, and the publications referenced also considered.
Hammon, TL & Griffin, S 2007, 'Support for selection of a methamphetamine cleanup standard in Colorado', Regulatory toxicology and pharmacology : RTP, vol. 48, no. 1, Jun, pp. 102-114.
Martyny, J 2008, Mathamphetamine Sampling Variability on Different Surfaces Using Different Solvents, Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, National Jewish Medical and research Center.
Martyny, JW 2008, 'Methamphetamine Stability and Recovery on Painted Drywall Surfaces', National Jewish Health, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences,
Salocks, C, Golub, MS & Kaufman, FL 2009, Development of a Reference Dose (RfD) for Methamphetamine, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, Integrated Risk Assessment Branch.
Serrano, KA, Martyny, JW, Kofford, S, Contreras, JR & Van Dyke, MV 2012, 'Decontamination of clothing and building materials associated with the clandestine production of methamphetamine', Journal of occupational and environmental hygiene, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 185-197.
Van Dyke, M, Martyny, JW & Serrano, KA 2014, 'Methamphetamine residue dermal transfer efficiencies from household surfaces', Journal of occupational and environmental hygiene, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 249-258.
Wright, J 2016, 'Exposure and Risk Associated with Clandestine Amphetamine-Type Stimulant Drug Laboratories', Health and Environment, School of the Environment, Flinders University.
Wright, J, Kenneally, ME, Edwards, JW & Walker, GS 2017, 'Adverse Health Effects Associated with Living in a Former Methamphetamine Drug Laboratory — Victoria, Australia, 2015', MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report, vol. 65, no. 52, 6 January 2017, pp. 1470-1473.