Meth house of horrors: 1200 times the legal drug limit
EXCLUSIVE: A Mackay man is finally nearing the end of a six-month long nightmare after discovering his Moranbah investment property was contaminated with such high levels of meth residue it was deemed uninhabitable by Queensland Health.
Tests done by drug residue testing service Meth Screen returned results that would horrify any landlord.
Mr Oxley's three bedroom home had residue readings more than 1200 times the safe limit.
The tenants, whom Mr Oxley had trusted, were using the property to smoke, distribute and potentially manufacture the drug.
After shelling out thousands of dollars in an attempt to get his house back on the market, he described his experience as an "absolute nightmare". But finding results like this are not out of the ordinary according to the chief executive of Meth Screen, Ryan Matthew.
"There is demand...we test often," he said. Mr Matthew said residual methamphetamine testing in Mackay was undertaken almost every second day by his company.
Meth Screen can't share the number of properties in Mackay that have been tested due to privacy concerns.
But statewide, 56 per cent of the 484 homes tested by the company have been positive to ice and methamphetamine residue.
Mr Oxley became aware of the meth residue problem in his investment home in April this year. Queensland Health informed him after police raided the property.
Mr Matthew said landlords and home owners needed to remain vigilant as 90 per cent of the time there was no evidence of meth residue contamination.
"I think [people] should be concious (of it)," he said. "People are smoking ice every day. That trend is not going away."
Living in a contaminated property is detrimental to health, especially for children.
Mr Matthew said the drug was absorbed into the bloodstream via the skin.
That meant people living in houses contaminated by the drug were essentially becoming "high" through their contact with the residue.
"The effects on children with (low level) exposure, are subtle neurological disturbance and delayed developmental milestones," he said.
Those exposed to higher levels of contamination show symptoms more akin to taking the drug. They exhibit cognitive impairment, a dry mouth, an inability to sleep, rashes and some people even have their hair fall out.
Mr Matthew said children who were exposed to high residue levels could show behavioural issues like aggression.
The residue can take decades to break down organically so to remove the residue, cleaners are required to thoroughly scrub every area of a home.
Since becoming aware of the contamination at his investment property, Mr Oxley has had to pay to have the house decontaminated.
"I'm at least $30,000 out of pocket and have had to replace all the internal doors, light fixtures and fittings, four air conditioners and all the ceiling fans," he said.
"The house has also been decontaminated and re-painted. It has been six months of pain."
Mr Oxley said he hoped to have the entire decontamination process finished soon.
"I am hoping the house will be given a clean bill of health before Christmas," he said.