When Annette Harloff rented out her granny flat in the utopian Sunshine Coast hinterland, she thought the new tenant was a nice, normal man. But he was slowly poisoning her with the toxic fumes radiating from his crystal meth lab.
“He didn’t sleep a lot. He was up all night rummaging around downstairs and then I was noticing a strong, vinegar-like smell but because he said he was a chef I didn’t take any further notice,” Ms Harloff recalls.
The man occupying her ground floor was in fact cooking. He was cooking crystal methamphetamine, also known as ‘ice’.
RELATED: We bought a meth lab
Ms Harloff’s story will feature in a four-part documentary airing on the ABC from Feb 7, ‘Ice Wars’
This meth cook was emitting caustic and dangerous fumes out of his kitchen window directly into the open window of Ms Harloff’s bedroom at night.
“I inhaled them all night. I had some psychotic episodes and panic attacks during the time that my tenant lived downstairs and... thought everybody would come and kill me then I was very disorientated,” she explains.
According to toxicologist Jackie Wright, methamphetamine residue “hangs around a long time, it seeps into furnishings and air-conditioning units. It is not safe to live among residue”.
Ice labs can set up anywhere – not just in warehouses or farm sheds, but in houses or apartments, and not always in low socio-economic areas. You could even be unknowingly renting a property that was once used a meth lab.
It is advisable to have new homes screened for meth residue before moving in to prevent exposure to toxic chemicals including acetone, toluene, red phosphorus, lithium from batteries and sodium hydroxide.
This article first appeared on marie claire.