• Tenants and home buyers need not necessarily fear traces of residual methamphetamine in a property, a New Zealand scientist has claimed.

Dr Nick Kim, a senior lecturer in environmental chemistry at Massey University, tested the residue left on walls by meth smokers and found the potential health effects of past P smoking was no worse than those of tobacco, or handling meth-contaminated bank notes.

In fact, contamination was a phrase he used carefully because it had been used loosely, he said. The accepted New Zealand benchmark for remediation, 0.5 micrograms per 100 square centimetres, was based on levels in a meth lab, not on houses where smoking had occurred.

Even that level was 24 times lower than “the lowest level that could you could plausibly have a health risk”.

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Just under 1 per cent of the adult population were thought to be meth users, which equated to about 10,000 to 16,000 households.