Ensuring Healthy Homes for British Columbians: Toward a Provincial Standard for the Remediation of Residential Properties Used in Drug Production
Research has documented the prevalence of synthetic drug laboratories among residential properties in British Columbia (Diplock, Kirkland, Malm & Plecas, 2005; Diplock & Brar, 2015), and the implementation of the Cannabis Act in 2018 creates potential for an increase in homes used in cannabis drug production. Considering the unique harms inflicted upon homes used in the production of cannabis and synthetic drugs, a structured remediation process is essential to ensure such properties are effectively reintroduced into the housing market. The Province of British Columbia (B.C.) does not currently have a policy framework that dictates a specific remediation process, instead leaving this to the jurisdiction of individual municipalities. While individual policies may exist in specific jurisdictions, it is suggested that the existing patchwork approach is insufficient to guarantee healthy homes for municipalities and that a cohesive provincial approach would be an effective solution. This report draws upon existing literature outlining the impact of drug production on residential properties, as well as existing federal and provincial policy, and qualitative interviews with relevant stakeholders to identify a standard definition of a healthy home that does not depend on the legality of a drug production operation. This definition is used as a foundation to propose a standardized remediation process that ultimately results in a healthy home that is safe for occupancy and reintroduction onto the housing market. The proposed remediation process takes a public health perspective and considers the policy and legislative structure in B.C., as well as identifies roles and responsibilities for various stakeholders. The proposed process, outlined in the Figure below, includes the following steps: Discovery, Inspection #1, Remediation, Inspection #2, and Designation (DIRID). It is suggested that the initial inspection and subsequent Orders be issued by a regional environmental health officer under the authority of the B.C. Public Health Act, that air quality and specific remediation requirements be the responsibility of certified experts, including Certified Industrial Hygienists or occupational hygienists, and that remediation work itself be carried out by contractors. Further, it is suggested that under Inspection #2 it would be the responsibility of the environmental health officer to designate a home as fully remediated. It is proposed that further development of the healthy home definition and standards, as well as the standards and processes required as part of the DIRID process, come under the provincial Ministry of Health. It is believed that this process, or one similar to it, would facilitate a holistic provincial response and ensure the safety and health of residences and their occupants in the Province of British Columbia.
Schenk, A., Geuze, G.J., & McCormick, A. (2018). Ensuring Healthy Homes for British Columbians: Toward a Provincial Standard for the Remediation of Residential Properties Used in Drug Production. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/122120