Was your home a P lab?

16:00, Jan 22 2011
plabwide
Officers wearing protective clothing bust a suspected P lab.

MORE than a third of people who suspect their homes have been used to cook or smoke P have been proved correct.

The New Zealand Drug Detection Agency has tested "in excess of several hundred" Kiwi homes for traces of drugs since 2008 and in 33% of cases test results have been positive.

NZDDA spokesman Nick McLeay said more home buyers were using the agency's services and test results had proved they weren't simply being "paranoid".

"The positive test results prove it," McLeay said.

"People are just being cautious. They're sayin, `Look I'm buying this house, it's the most substantial thing I'm going to buy', so they're tagging it on along with the other tests they are routinely doing like water tightness and structural tests."

NZDDA does a basic "preliminary" drug test costing $350, which identifies any traces of drugs. Positive tests are then referred on to "lab-based companies" which do more extensive testing and decontamination.

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NZDDA tests four rooms based on clients' requests and "the most likely places to be used for cooking or consuming drugs".

Of all tests undertaken traces of drugs were most prevalent in bedrooms, 30%; followed by kitchens, 23%; and bathrooms, 16%.

Almost a half of all tests done were in Auckland.

NZDDA doesn't test homes that have already been identified as P labs or drug-dealing properties by police, rather properties people suspect may contain drug residue.

"Sometimes the neighbour has said something or they've experienced symptoms (of drug exposure), so they call us," McLeay said.

He said symptoms clients had complained of included nausea, headaches, skin problems and difficulty sleeping.

Auckland metro crime boss Chris Cahill said that as police found only 123 P labs nationwide between January and November 2010 and 120 in 2009, it was safe to conclude, "based on the volume of houses in New Zealand, that most homes haven't been used as P labs".

But the detective senior sergeant said if people had valid suspicions, or felt sick as a result of being at a property, they should get the house tested for health reasons and "because if you invest in a property that has been used (to cook drugs) it could be very expensive to fix".

Properties had been demolished because of damage caused by manufacturing drugs, Cahill said, adding that special attention should be paid to ex-rental properties.

"That's a different kettle of fish."

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