Current practices underestimate environmental exposures to methamphetamine: inhalation exposures are important

Jackie Wright, Bob Symons, Jonathon Angell, Kirstin E. Ross, Stewart Walker


Current practice for determining the exposure to methamphetamine in contaminated homes relies on the analysis of surface wipe sample to address direct contact exposures. The movement of methamphetamine into the air phase, and the potential for inhalation exposures to occur within residential homes contaminated from former clandestine manufacture or smoking of methamphetamine has been generally poorly characterised and understood. All available risk-based guidelines for determining safe levels of methamphetamine in residential properties do not include any consideration of the inhalation pathway as an exposure route. This study showed that methamphetamine can readily move from contaminated materials in a home into the air phase. This movement of methamphetamine into the air phase provides both an exposure pathway and a mechanism for the transfer of methamphetamine throughout a property. The inhalation exposure pathway has the potential to result in significant intake of methamphetamine, adding to dermal absorption and ingestion exposure routes. Guidelines that are established for the assessment of methamphetamine contaminated properties that ignore inhalation exposures can significantly underestimate exposure and result in guidelines that are not adequately protective of health. This study also demonstrates that sampling methamphetamine in air can be undertaken using commercially available sorption tubes and analytical methods.

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