Nigel Withell
Director and Testing Technician
Safe Zones Drug Testing Ltd

Safe Zones Drug Testing Director, Nigel Withell has over 20 years in the New Zealand Police as a detective and experience in crime scene forensics, making him well qualified for the role of testing for drug contamination. Nigel is qualified as a Science Technician at Lincoln University with a Diploma in Field Technology and was employed by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, as a Science Technician.

Methamphetamine or “P” contaminated properties is a hot topic and is something that you need to be informed about so you can do your best by both your vendor clients and potential purchasers and landlords.

Why test a property for Methamphetamine contamination?

  • If methamphetamine contamination or prior activity is suspected in a prospective property for sale a meth test is to be conducted, a due diligence clause ought to be inserted into the Agreement for Sale and Purchase of Real Estate.
  • Insurance for newly acquired property found to have been contaminated by meth is hard to obtain and existing contamination will not be covered.
  • Insurance companies have strict requirements and do conduct many checks before they accept any meth claim. The insurance companies will look more favourably on accepting a claim if the properties were tested between tenants.
  • A property meth tested between tenants will deter any unsavoury tenants.
  • The Tenancy Act 1986 and amendments state “a property must be presented in a reasonably clean and tidy condition”. Meth free!
  • Tenants are being awarded compensation for living in meth contaminated properties.
  • Some banks are making it a requirement to test for Meth before they agree to provide purchasers finance.
  • Test to provide a safe living environment.

Why choose Safe Zones Drug Testing Ltd?

  • As the testing technician for Safe Zones Drug Testing, I am prepared to stand at a Tenancy Tribunal or at an REAA hearing to give evidence that the testing was completed to the NIOSH 9111 Standard and samples that the samples were laboratory analysed and are accurate.
  • While there are many methods and devices used for the detection of Meth, Safe Zones Drug Testing Ltd only use laboratory analysed surface swabs. Not the less accurate strip or instant testing.
  • Safe Zones Drug Testing have developed a unique and accurate method of recording where Meth swab testing has been taken during the initial screen e.g (start of tenancy) which enables us to return to the exact location and test again at the end of a tenancy. This testing will provide with a high degree of reliability that contamination detected must have occurred since the previous test. This method of test is perfect for testing rental properties between tenancies.

The Real Estate Agents Authority in a newsletter dated 30th June 2016 to all real estate companies states in part “Given the potential challenges and reliability issues presented by strip testing, there is a strong argument for not supporting the use of these strip tests.”

It goes on to state “Remember, the reliability of the less expensive indicative tests is limited, and you could expose yourself to liability for the result should it be found to be inaccurate, or as a consequence of the results, contribute to a dispute. Potential complaints may include the failure to disclose an underlying defect, the failure to exercise skill care and competence when carrying out real estate agency work, failing to act in the best interests of the client and more.”

What type of testing does Safe Zones Drug Testing use?

There are a number of methods used by companies to detect Meth contamination and some methods like strip testing will vary greatly in their sensitivity and will not accurately indicate whether the level detected is above or below the Ministry of Health guidelines.

At Safe Zones we use accurate Individual Wipe Analysis which are laboratory analysed which provide accurate evidence of meth contamination or not.

How many samples do you take?

Laboratory Composite Analysis

Up to 10 discrete or individual 100cm² surface samples are taken following the NIOSH 9111 method specified in NZS8510:2017. These samples are taken from locations within the dwelling, which through our experience are likely to be “hotspots” for contamination. These samples are then forwarded to Analytica Laboratories where they were combined into a single composite.

This approach allows for multiple samples to be initially screened as a group to determine whether there is evidence of methamphetamine being present. It also allows for the individual samples to be retained and tested in the event of a high result. It avoids the high initial cost of individually testing all samples, while also ensuring that individual samples are retained and available for testing if needed.

The Individual Wipe Analysis provides for individual test results for all locations tested in a property. Separate results provide accurate individual results as each sample is analysed.

Both these test will determine whether the level of Meth detected presents a risk to human health as detailed by New Zealand Standard (NZS8510:2017).