The Four Meth Tests
It seems like every other day there is something in the media about methamphetamine testing. Do test, don’t test, individual testing, instant testing, it just seems to go on and on. This has highlighted the need for ongoing education around the current available testing options in New Zealand. So with this in mind, we have put together a really basic guide to the four most common tests that are currently available.
1) In-field Test – These tests are the instant tests that are conducted on site. They can be inaccurate and have been known to produce false-positives and more importantly, false-negatives. They are so inaccurate that the current draft-form Standards Document from the Ministry of Health has stated that they will allow a 10% failure rate. This is a phenomenal stat, and it is because of this that we absolutely stress to all customers that whoever you use to do your testing, please ensure that they are not using these instant tests!
2) Field Composite Test – These tests are laboratory based, which is positive, but they are the most basic form of laboratory testing available. The sample technician will take multiple samples and place them into a single vial which is sent to the laboratory for testing. They will then provide you with an average reading of all the samples taken. The real issue with these tests are the steps that you have to take in the event of a failed (contaminated) result. If you have a Field Composite Test completed and the result is a fail, you then have to re-book the technician to come back to site to take individual samples. This causes three issues.
The first is time. You have to wait for the technician to be available to come back to site. You then have to wait for the laboratory to test the samples and the report to be written, before you can get the individual test results. The second issue is the inconvenience to tenants or current occupants. Often organising the first visit is tricky enough. Having to tell the occupants that you need to have the technician come back again does not always go over very well. Finally cost. Because the technician needs to come back to site to do the individual testing, the costs seem to just sky rocket! So while, the Field Composite Test, is a laboratory based test, it does have a number of drawbacks.
3) Laboratory Composite Test – This is the best available option for baseline testing in New Zealand today. The sample technician will take multiple individual samples on site. These samples are then individually sent to the laboratory for testing. The laboratory will then take a small portion of each sample and combine it to give a composite result. The laboratory will then keep the remainder of each individual sample in “a clean environment” for 30 days. This means that if there is a failed result from the composite test, the laboratory can then simply perform individual testing on the samples that it is already holding. This not only significantly reduces the timeframe around secondary testing, it also significantly reduces the costs involved. As far as we can ascertain, Active Testing Solutions is the only company in New Zealand that offers Laboratory Composite Testing as a baseline test.
4) Individual Laboratory Test – This is the highest standard of test currently available in New Zealand. Individual samples are taken on site and sent to the laboratory for testing. The laboratory individually tests each sample for methamphetamine contamination. This allows you to ascertain the specific levels of contamination for each area tested. This test is used when there is reason to believe that a property may be contaminated or when one of the first three testing options has produced a failed result.