There are two primary types of home methamphetamine tests – instant and laboratory testing kits. However, we’ve already posted another article about the differences between them. So, rather than revisit all that information, we’d like to tell you a story. As always, for the sake of privacy, we’ll call the woman in this story Jane.
The Trouble With Instant Tests
Jane was concerned about the possibility of meth in her home. (Her son had moved out recently, and she had reason to believe he’d involved himself in some illicit activities). Now, most folks in Jane’s position struggle to admit that someone they love is capable of such behavior. They’d like to believe that their children, grandchildren, friends, nieces and nephews, and other loved ones would never smoke meth in their home. This is understandable. Thinking that the people you love could abuse your hospitality is a heart-wrenching prospect. Unfortunately, countless people have experienced just that. (Which means that no matter how much you want to trust, the only way to know for sure is to test).
Realizing this, and knowing about the health risks associated with meth, Jane decided to check her home for contamination. Hoping for a quick answer, she purchased an instant at-home kit. This particular kit looked a bit like a series of confusing pregnancy tests. They were color-based too (the darker the result, the higher the level of meth).
Her results showed nothing in her son’s room. However, there was some contamination in her furnace, at 4.0µg.
Unsure what this meant or what to do next, she decided to have a professional test and called AEI Decon. Our Certified Decontamination Specialist used a proper laboratory testing kit, checking the areas directly to the right of where she tested. The lab results came back with 14µg in the bedroom, and 42µg in the furnace, where she had only read a four. In other words, not only was her furnace system compromised, but it also had the potential to redistribute high levels of meth into every room of her home.
False Readings and False Positives.
To understand why Jane’s story is concerning, and how much meth was in her home, let’s recall two things. One, that meth is dangerous. Secondly, that Utah’s standard for methamphetamine contamination is 1.0µg/100cm². Now, these state standards are based (in part) on reference dosing. To explain that would be a bit involved. So, for now, just know that 42µg is well above what researchers consider safe levels of meth residue. That means relying on an instant test could have exposed Jane to unsafe (and potentially toxic) conditions for years to come.
This is consistent with our experience with instant testing kits. In this case, they detected much lower levels than the laboratory method. However, they can produce false positives as well. There have been several times we’ve tested a home to find that the instant readings reported much more contamination than was actually present.
So, are home methamphetamine tests accurate? The answer is simple. If you want to have confidence in your results, you’ll want a laboratory testing kit. (You’ll also want to ensure the test is NIOSH 9111 compliant).
Should I Hire Someone to Do My Test?
Jane could have saved herself some time and money by contacting a professional to do the initial testing. Generally, this is what we recommend for our customers. You see, it’s easy to make mistakes during the sampling process, or to miss areas of potential contamination. Depending on your situation, you may need to hire a Certified Decontamination Specialist, or not. If you’re in Utah, we can help you find the right sort of help. Give us a call at 801-888-6698.