Rental home made family sick
SHORTLY after moving into a new rental home, Jonathan and his family fell ill with the same symptoms.
The Melbourne father began experiencing debilitating headaches that he couldn't get rid of.
"I just couldn't throw off the headache, every morning I'd get this headache, I took so much Panadol and I just had trouble throwing it off," he told Seven News.
When his children began experiencing the same ailments, he decided to get the rental house checked for methamphetamine - and he was shocked by the results.
"Well, my 13-year-old daughter's bedroom was 80 times the safe level," he said.
The nation's ice epidemic is creating serious problems for tenants, with drug gangs leaving behind potentially fatal traces of crystal meth in contaminated houses.
Josh Marsden of Meth Lab Cleaners Australia told Seven News the problem is only getting worse.
"We've seen properties that have been 15,000 to 20,000 times over the safe level," he said. "Hotel rooms, Airbnb's, short-term rentals, they can cook ice in a couple of days."
There are now growing calls for a property register to allow people to check and see whether the property they're renting or buying has been tested for traces of drugs.
In an earlier interview with news.com.au, Bryan Goodall, National Sales Manager of Octief, an environmental consulting and laboratory services company, said meth contamination is insidious, often going undetected with no obvious warning signs.
Unlike other substances, such as tobacco or cannabis, there is no telltale evidence of use which makes it hard to detect as homebuyer or landlord.
"There is a big misconception with meth that it is just a drug like cannabis or cigarette smoke," Mr Goodall said.
The contamination also remains in the home long after the manufacturers or users have moved out, even if there have been renovations.
"Methamphetamine is different. It is chemical-based so it does not go away. It isn't biodegradable and it doesn't disappear. Contamination can remain in the house of years and years after it was smoked or manufactured in the house," Mr Goodall told news.com.au.
"You might walk into a house with brand new carpets and brand new paint and a nice, new renovated kitchen. You can't see what is underneath it. That house is potentially still contaminated … You can paint over the plaster board but the stuff will leak back through the paint. It does not go away."
Depending on how heavy the contamination is, removing it can range from chemical washes to replacement to complete knockdown and rebuilds.
"In an average scenario, you may have to remove the plaster boards and pull up the most absorbent materials in the house such as carpet and insulation," Mr Goodall said.
"Heavy contamination can seep right into the timber of the house. Worst-case scenario you have to knock the house down because you can't get rid of the contamination, but this is rare."
Common exposure is through skin contact with surfaces containing meth residue or though inhalation of chemicals and organic compounds. This can lead to serious health issues with side effects including disrupted sleep, anxiety, respiratory problems, rashes, children with inattention or ADHD-like behaviour psychosis and damage to the brain, liver and kidneys.