The clandestine manufacture and use of methamphetamine can result in contamination of residential properties. It is understood that this contamination remains in homes for a significant period, however there are a lack of data available to understand the health effects of exposure
to environmental methamphetamine contamination (third-hand exposure). Our study collected information from 63 individuals in 25 separate case studies where the subjects had unwittingly suffered third-hand exposure to methamphetamine from former manufacture, use, or both. Data included environmental contamination data, information on subjects’ health effects, and evidence of exposure using hair analysis. This study identified a range of health effects that occur from residing in these properties, including behavioural effects or issues, sleep issues, respiratory effects, skin and eye
effects, and headaches. Methamphetamine was detected in hair samples from some individuals, including children. The exposures and concomitant reported health effects covered a wide range of environmental methamphetamine levels in the properties, including low levels close to the current Australian guideline of 0.5 µg methamphetamine/100 cm2 . There were no discernible differences between health effects from living in properties contaminated from former manufacture or use.
This study demonstrates that residing in these properties can represent a serious public health risk.