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UAA receives commitment from State Board of Health to revise abusive meth rules.

Posted by on August 5th, 2016


Until recently Utah was the only state in the nation that allows a a type of testing for methamphetamine contamination that can result in false positives and require landlords to spend thousands of dollars needlessly.
For years the apartment association has fought with the Salt Lake County Health Department over the issue unsuccessfully. This summer, the apartment association received a commitment from the state Board of Health to prohibit the questionable testing practice.
At a recent meeting with the director of the state department of health, Dr. Miner, and the Governor's Chief of Staff, Justin Harding, the health department indicated they understood the problem and were in the process of prohibiting the practice in question.
In August, a committee to formally change the health department regulations has begun. The real estate industry will be heavily involved and participate in the process of writing the new regulation.
"The problem here is that the Salt Lake Valley Health Department and decontamination specialists were taking advantage of landlords. They were using a testing protocol that was more likely to fail the unit. We've had many cases where if the proper testing protocols were done the properties would have been fine, but because the meth cleanup industry, who have a vested interest in failing properties, used dishonest tests, landlords were having to spend $5,000 to $10,000 to clean up properties they shouldn't have. Salt Lake Valley Health Department could have stepped in and helped but they wouldn't. We are very appreciative that the state finally realized the problem and is going to fix it," says Kirk Cullimore, landlord attorney. 

Meth Testing:

In Utah, there are two kinds of tests for methamphetamine contamination, as defined by the EPA.[i]

In discrete sampling, also known as “individual” sampling, single samples are taken at spatially discrete locations. This sampling technique should be used in areas that are “hot spots” highly suggestive of contamination. R392-600-5 says areas highly suggestive of contamination must be tested by this method.

In composite sampling, multiple discrete samples are combined and treated as a single sample for analytical purposes. The State and County Health departments allow this sampling technique because they say it is less costly for consumers.

However, the State Health Departments is exceeding its authority by allowing testers to use the “compiling” instead of “averaging” method. This results in more properties failing and more work for decontamination specialists.

Here is a description of each of type of testing:

Contamination Limit - Less than or equal to 1.0 microgram (µg) Methamphetamine per 100 square centimeters.

Testing Example

Despite bringing to their attention multiple properties that failed under compiled composite testing that would not have failed if averaging (the scientific standard) was used, the County and State health Departments still refuse to back down. We have made several attempts to get them to operate within their authority and have failed.

Whether allowing compiled composite sampling is crony capitalism to generate more business for decontamination specialists or just sloppy science, it exceeds the Health Department’s authority and the real estate and property management industry ask the Administrative Rules Oversight Committee to intervene.

Utah R392-600 requires:

  • Samples collected from areas highly suggestive of contamination shall be by grab samples that are not combined with other samples.[ii]
  • "Grab Sample" means one sample collected from a single, defined area or media at a given time and location.[iii]
  • Confirmation sampling from areas not highly suggestive of contamination… shall be collected in a manner consistent with the confirmation sampling [procedure laid out in the rule]. The samples may be combined together to form one sample per room or sampling area.[iv] [NO COMPILING OF SAMPLES IS ALLOWED BY STATUE]


[i] EAP Voluntary Guides for Methamphetamine Laboratory Cleanup, 2013; p 25

[ii] R392-600-6(5)(a)

[iii] R392-600-2(21)

[iv] R392-600-6(6)


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