235786 Residential methamphetamine contamination: Knowledge, perceptions and attitudes

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 8:50 AM

Gabriel Eli Morey, MPH , School of Medicine, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
Steven Thygerson, PhD, MSPH, CIH , Department of Health Sciences, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
Christina McNaughton, PhD , Environmental Epidemiology Program, Utah Department of Health, Salt Lake City, UT
Joshua West, PhD, MPH , Department of Health Sciences, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
With emerging evidence regarding the adverse effects of chronic low-dose methamphetamine exposure, there is growing concern for the health of unsuspecting victims: renters and buyers of former meth houses. In order to better understand the extent of public knowledge about residential methamphetamine contamination, a cross-sectional computer-assisted telephone interview survey of a random, representative sample of Utah residents aged 18 years and over was conducted between March and April 2009. Methamphetamine-specific questions were designed to assess perceived methamphetamine exposure severity, perceived susceptibility, and ability to avoid methamphetamine exposure. The survey found that 68.8% of 509 respondents had heard of residential methamphetamine contamination, but of these, only 1 in 13 reported consulting information about it prior to moving into their current primary residence. The most commonly consulted sources of information were: realtors, friends, family, Internet, and home inspectors. The majority (74.1%) of respondents were "unconfident" in their ability to identify signs of former methamphetamine labs. When faced with a hypothetical contamination scenario in which meth had been smoked in their home, almost a quarter (21.1%) stated that they would try to clean it up themselves and less than half (42.6%) reported that they would move out temporarily or permanently. The majority (77.2%) of those surveyed said it was “very important” to them that the state set legal limits on allowed residential methamphetamine concentrations. Approximately 170,000 Utah residents are unaware of the status of their home. Few Utah residents have a functional knowledge regarding residential methamphetamine contamination. The younger, less educated, lower income, elderly, and those who rent or lease their home are the most likely to be adversely affected by meth contamination and should therefore be targeted by awareness campaigns.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain the main demographic characteristics associated with low knowledge about residential methamphetamine contamination. 2. List the most accessed sources for information about residential methamphetamine contamination.

Keywords: Environmental Health, Public Health Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I work within a program of public health that seeks scientific objectivity in recommending ways to protect the public.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.