Environmental methamphetamine exposures and health effects in 25 case studies

Jackie Wright, Michaela Kenneally, Kirstin Ross, Stewart Walker

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11 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


The clandestine manufacture and use of methamphetamine can result in contamination of residential properties. It is understood that this contamination remains in homes for a significant period, however there are a lack of data available to understand the health effects of exposure to environmental methamphetamine contamination (third-hand exposure). Our study collected information from 63 individuals in 25 separate case studies where the subjects had unwittingly suffered third-hand exposure to methamphetamine from former manufacture, use, or both. Data included environmental contamination data, information on subjects' health effects, and evidence of exposure using hair analysis. This study identified a range of health effects that occur from residing in these properties, including behavioural effects or issues, sleep issues, respiratory effects, skin and eye effects, and headaches. Methamphetamine was detected in hair samples from some individuals, including children. The exposures and concomitant reported health effects covered a wide range of environmental methamphetamine levels in the properties, including low levels close to the current Australian guideline of 0.5 μg methamphetamine/100 cm2. There were no discernible differences between health effects from living in properties contaminated from former manufacture or use. This study demonstrates that residing in these properties can represent a serious public health risk.

Original languageEnglish
Article number61
Number of pages32
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).


  • Environmental exposure
  • Hair analysis
  • Health effects
  • Manufacture
  • Methamphetamine
  • Use


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