How We Test For Methamphetamine

There are two main types of test employed for property methamphetamine testing.

Both types are designed to determine the presence or level of methamphetamine residue in a given sample area, usually 100cm². Both tests are relevant and have a legitimate place in forensic science provided they are used correctly and samples are taken in accordance with good scientific practice.

Your local tester is trained to discuss the appropriate test with you so that you are informed of the strengths and limitations of each.

These very finely calibrated tests designed specifically for providing a quick yes/no type result set at a given cut-off level. Using these tests properly we are able to provide a same-day answer and we are confident that in the right hands these are an accurate and extremely useful tool.

The presumptive immunoassay tests, of the type we use, are commonly used in laboratories as quick tool to determine the presence of a given compound. We do not develop the test results at the property. Our process ensures that samples are handled properly so that cross-contamination and poor handling is not a factor.

Presumptive tests do not determine the exact level of methamphetamine on a surface, they simply tell us if it is there or not. We would always recommend more comprehensive laboratory analysis should a positive result be obtained.

This involves samples being taken with individual lab kits and the resulting swabs being sent to a laboratory for analysis. The laboratory will be able to provide a level of methamphetamine present from very low levels. The cost of these tests is significantly higher and the results will take several days.

There is no doubt that for an in depth result the laboratory testing is preferred. Should initial screening indicate the presence of methamphetamine, we would highly recommend a series of laboratory tests be taken and sent for analysis.

Some companies in the Meth Testing business favour using just one or two laboratory swabs to determine the presence of methamphetamine in a property as a cost-cutting measure. They call this “composite testing”. In this instance the swab is taken around several areas at once in an attempt to collect as much as possible on the swab. The resulting lab result will provide a yes/no answer but we caution against trying to interpret any level provided by such a test. It should be seen as a screening method only similar to presumptive testing.

The key to good results is actually about good sampling. If either of the above methods is used wrongly the resulting data will be useless. It is extremely important that samples are taken from proper representative areas of the property rather than a scatter-gun approach to hunt down methamphetamine. We do not sample fixtures and fittings that may have recently been introduced and we do not try and pull samples off fans etc. These samples will not help anyone determine a proper level of contamination with which to make remediation decisions.

Anyone can put on a set of purple gloves and take a swab, the main problem is that if the sample isn’t properly handled the lab is given a less than useful sample.
Our sampling of both testing methods is both carefully considered and treated in accordance with good scientific practice.