The hidden danger of ice in our homes
WHEN you hear about methamphetamine (ice) use, stories typically tend to focus on the immediate issues, but one Australian organisation is trying to broaden the scope of the conversation around ice.
Meth Screen is a national company that works with businesses and individuals to test homes for residue of methamphetamine, and Central Queensland's results are shocking.
Ryan Matthews, Meth Screen's chief executive, says after being in the business for as long as he has, nothing shocks him any more.
He's tested regional towns across northern Australia, including Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns and said that in every little city and town there were pockets of areas that seemed to pop up more than others.
Within the Rockhampton and Gladstone region, 50 per cent of the properties screened contained methamphetamine residue.
"A safe level is 0.5 micrograms per 100 square centimetres, which is not a lot," Mr Matthews said.
"Smoking methamphetamine will contaminate the inside surfaces, so the presence of methamphetamine on inside surfaces at a level of greater than 0.5 micrograms is considered unacceptable.
"Some people think that it is just meth labs we need to worry about, but that couldn't be further from the truth.
"Smoking Meth deposits on the inside surfaces in exactly the same way as aerosol deposits when someone is cooking drugs.
"The vapour that comes out of the pipe when someone is smoking ice is essentially pure methamphetamine."
Homes in Barlows Hill, Berskerker, Calliope, Gladstone, Rockhampton City and Taranganba have all tested positive to the illicit residue.
Homes in both Barlows Hill and Berserker returned methamphetamine residue readings more than 24 times above what is considered a safe standard.
For Mr Matthews, it is vital that home owners and renters know this information and are proactive in making sure their homes are safe.
"It really does cover every spectrum of society and I would say it doesn't really discriminate," he said.
"Rental properties are definitely what stand out though. That is really where the risk lies.
"Western Australia and Queensland seem to be the most active in terms of taking steps to do something about it.
"If I was to test every rental property in Australia, I think potentially 10 per cent of those properties would have a presence of the drug.
"They might not all be highly contaminated, but they would all register a presence."
Mr Matthews said some companies were more proactive than others and there was a growth space that could see every property tested, cleaned and deemed safe before a tenant moved in.
"I think the issue is much bigger than we collectively think it is and what people understand, because no one is testing at volume yet," he said.
"No-one is really taking the leap to be proactive at this point, so I think if we were testing on scale there would be a pretty clear picture as to how bad the problem is, far worse than we really understand."