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Meth Testing During Real Estate Transactions – A Reasonable Approach

Real Estate transactions are contracts where time is of the essence.  In these contracts what is the most reasonable approach to testing for methamphetamine contamination while balancing the needs of the buyer and seller?

We are uniquely positioned to answer that question at Safe Home Environmental, as a DEQ Certified Meth CleanUp Contractor & an InterNACHI Certified Property Inspection Company.

balancing on a teeter tawter

The most reasonable approach will maximize the opportunity to detect methamphetamine residue in a property while minimizing the testing costs to the buyer.  This approach will also minimize the property owners’ risk of “legal liability to disclose” meth contamination from a meth testing result that is either false or improperly performed.

When a buyer selects the Meth Testing Service with their property inspection, Safe Home Environmental will test using 6 discrete samples.  We use wipes whetted with methanol as the capturing agent.  We send our samples to a DEQ-qualified lab that uses the NIOSH 9111 method when analyzing the wipes for meth contamination.

How does this balance all the needs of both buyers & sellers?

  1. We use only DEQ-certified testing methods (see Up In Smoke for more info on why quick test methods are not beneficial for real estate transaction testing.)
  2. We use 6 discrete samples to maximize the odds of finding meth contamination in a property.  This sample set can be reduced for smaller properties to help further reduce the costs.
  3. We test the most common “worse case” spots typical for meth smoke contamination (cold air return, bath vent fans, etc.)
  4. We include 1 Field Blank as quality control and quality assurance of our testing methods.  This prevents false positives.  False positives are always a risk for the property owner.
  5. We use discrete samples vs composite samples.  A composite sample that comes back over 1.5 ug/100 cm2 would cause the property owner to now have the legal liability to disclose meth contamination when they may not actually need to. If each of the 4 spots were tested individually with a discrete sample and each had less than 1.5 ug/100 cm2 individually, the property owner would not have a legal liability to disclose. Composite sampling does minimize the testing costs for the buyer. Using composite testing you could test 8 separate sites in two test samples. Composite sampling adds the meth from each area sampled, so Site 1 + Site 2 + Site 3 + Site 4.  If each sample site had 1 ug/100 cm2, the result would be 4 ug/100 cm2. Because of the compounding effect in a single wipe, this would put the seller at the greatest risk for unnecessary liability to disclose.

    If a property owner is put in this position because of the use of composite sampling they then must test the property themselves using discrete sample testing to remove their legal liability to disclose. This costs more time and money for the property owner.

    Using composite sampling puts both the buyer and the seller at risk of loss, which is why we use only discrete sampling.  We understand that both the buyer and seller have invested resources in moving toward an amicable transaction.  We are supporting their mutual interests.

  6. Pricing includes next-day delivery of samples to the lab.  The lab response time is 4 days from receipt of samples.  One-day expedited lab results are available for an additional fee.

For further reading about meth, see the following:

My Property is Contaminated with Meth – Now What?

Up in Smoke

DEQ Meth CleanUp Program

Safe Home Environmental is the only solutions-based testing company in Montana.