Illicit drug and meth smoke houses

If illicit drugs, especially methamphetamine (meth, ice), are smoked in a home the drug will form residues on adjacent surfaces and be a risk to other occupants. The level of contamination will increase with duration and frequency of smoking but only in more severe situations will the levels approach those of drug manufacture (clandestine drug laboratory, clan lab). 

If drug contamination, normally meth is being investigated the assumption is that unless there are indicators otherwise, any residue found will be from smoking. The clean-up action for smoke houses are generally less extensive than what is required for drug manufacture.

Indicators that contamination may result from a lab rather than smoking alone include any of the following:

  • A notification of a lab by a responsible agency such as the WA Police, Department of Health (DOH) local government (LGA's)
  • The presence of equipment normally associated with a lab such as unusual collections of chemicals, containers with tubing, dumped chemical waste material, or stained surfaces
  • High level of meth contamination on surfaces such as above 5-1ug/100cm2 for a swab sample
  • Advice from someone who has reliable information about the property.

The DOH has developed an Interim Guide for Remediation of Low Level Illicit Drug Contamination (PDF 277KB) (to assist LGA's, service providers and members of the community to manage public health risks associated with illicit drug smoke residues.

The process outlined is not mandatory unless as part of a Notice from an LGA or another regulatory agency. However, in other relevant contamination situations it is still recommended, and its application will demonstrate due duty of care. The Guide is interim since it may be refined as more scientific information and experience are obtained. There are also disclosure and management requirements under consumer protection legislation (external site).

If any contamination is suspected or known to be from a clan lab, then it will be subject to more thorough clean-up guidance and training. Visit the Clandestine drug labs and Remediation of Illicit drug contamination webpages for more information.

Regardless of the type of drug contamination, DOH recommends that its management be by companies selected from the DOH list of qualified drug contamination service providers (73KB). Other providers may be unqualified and/or do unsatisfactory work.;

If in doubt, the DOH can be contacted to provide advice on what management process may be appropriate.

More Information

Environmental Health Directorate
Phone: (08) 9222 2000
Email: clanlabs@health.wa.gov.au

Last reviewed: 11-06-2021
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Environmental Health Directorate