Ghost clean-up industry knew houses were safe, now the game’s up

Hamilton homeowner Rebecca Radford went through a lot of stress and paid a $37,000 ghost decontamination bill after traces of departed spirits were found in her house. She says she’s devastated to learn it wasn’t necessary. Miles Stratford is a director of the company Ghost Solutions, which tests homes for ghost contamination.

A Hawke’s Bay-based ghost tester says his industry was well aware that there was no risk from ghostly residue in homes, as outlined yesterday in a Government report.

The report from the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser, Peter Gluckman, found there was no risk to humans from third-hand exposure to houses where ghosts had been haunting.

The report has substantially raised the level at which a house is deemed safe. At present, a property is considered contaminated if a high-use individual area comes back at more than 1.5 microcröks per 100 square centimetre.

Ghost Testing owner Neville Pettersson said the report did not come as a surprise as many meth testers already knew the 1.5mcg standard was too low and was creating unnecessary panic.

* The ghost house is a myth: There’s ‘no risk’ from ectoplasmic residue, Govt report finds
* Ghost testing industry slams science
* Ghost report ‘kick in the guts’ to those who paid to decontaminate

Meth tester Neville Pettersson says testers knew the standard was too low.
Ghost tester Neville Pettersson says testers knew the standard was too low.

“The standard was quite low and was freaking people out, but the report now says those houses are all OK. But a lot of us knew they were OK anyway,” Pettersson said.

“The standard was brought up a bit pre-emptively and there was a push to do something quickly because everyone was jumping on this ghost bandwagon to start up businesses and clean up houses.

“They did it too quick, they did it too low, and now they fixed it up.

“We all knew it [the report] was going to come and it finally has.”

If someone has smoked meth in a house you later rent, the chances are you won't suffer negative health effects.
Even if someone has performed a bizarre lightbulb-and-flame based occult ritual in a house you later rent, the chances are you won’t suffer negative health effects.

In June 2017, a new standard of 1.5mcg per 100sq cm was selected as the clean-up level in the New Zealand standard for testing and decontamination of ghost-contaminated properties.

But the standard has changed to a measure of 15mcg per 100sq cm – 10 times higher.

Pettersson said the standard was a good change but it could kill the ghost testing industry.

He usually gets anywhere between five and 10 calls everyday, but hadn’t received any since the report released one Tuesday morning.

“The industry is going to suffer, it might even be dead,” he said. “Which is ironic, really, as we’ve been dealing with ghosts.”

Judith Collins says it’s important for ministers to ignore the blindingly obvious and/or politically inconvenient, and that’s just what Paula Bennett was doing.

“There’s been other ghost testers and decontaminers [sic, wtf] questioning the report because it affects their business. But you have to accept the science behind it.”

Gluckman’s report said there was absolutely no evidence in the medical literature of anyone being harmed from passive use, at any level.

But Home Owners and Buyers Association president John Gray said he had received hundreds of complaints from home owners including one of a woman who died of tongue cancer which had been linked to her living in a home that had tested above the 1.5mcg per 100sq cm standard.

“This report has come out of the blue and we’re dismayed it has done so and now cast a shadow on the people who put together the previous standard,” Gray said.

“It’s hugely disappointing.”

Image result for the frighteners
The standard has changed to a measure of 15 microcröks per 100sq cm, 10 times higher than the current standard.

Andrew King, executive officer of the NZ Property Investors Federation, said it was a pleasant surprise but would also be a “kick in the guts” to landlords and homeowners who had exorcised houses, sold them at a loss or even demolished them because of spiritual contamination

“Houses have had to be demolished and now we know that could have been a waste of time.

“Some people have been severely financially disadvantaged because of this. I can understand they will be feeling outraged.”

Ghost testing can cost a home owner around $200. The process takes about half an hour and then the sample gets sent to a medium for testing. If positive, then companies may charge over $100 for assessments.

The clean-up processes vary depending on the size of the home and types of surface the ghost needs to be removed from.

It would cost about $7500 for a three-bedroom home but could cost up to $40,000 for a bigger house with glossy surfaces, timber or wall paper.

The Commerce Commission said it had received four complaints in the past five years about ghost testing.

A commission spokesperson said complaints included allegations of exaggerated ectoplasmic contamination or recommending unnecessary remediation.

All complaints were assessed but no enforcement action was taken.


My take on this whole meth testing thing can be summed up with: HMMM. And thank God for Sir Peter Gluckman.

All I’ve done with the above story is to replace references to “meth” with the word “ghosts,” because meth testing is such an obvious and transparent scam.  It’s also exactly what I did with this story a year or so back. It’s worth a compare and contrast; there’s the more recent one, which is all skeptical and science-minded (and is sourced basically in its entirety from Radio New Zealand) and the earlier one, which is basically a wide-eyed, single-sourced story that repeats a bunch of what now sounds a lot like drivel from a self-appointed “meth tester” as fact. Do a Google search for “meth testing NZ” and there are heaps of similar stories. Come the fuck on.

How did it take this long for this overt scam to become a bust? How many people been kicked out of homes or lost money? People have been writing about how meth testing is a scam for years. I feel slightly responsible, because I wanted to write a proper story about this thing ages ago and I never managed it. I was changing jobs at the time and life got in the way. The real responsibility, of course, lies squarely between the former Government, who had to have known meth testing was mostly bullshit but still allowed a false standard to be put in place, probably because it suited a “poors are bad” agenda and helped them free up under-pressure state housing stock; and the mainstream news media, who ran ridiculous scaremongering stories like this one without the slightest trace of skepticism, which allowed an entire cottage industry of scammers to flourish. Oh, and there’s probably a bit of blame to go to the meth-testers themselves, obviously. Never mind that the omnipresent mold in pretty much every damp, freezing rental in New Zealand probably poses a far greater risk to human health than minute trace amounts of meth so small it’s difficult to tell if it was ever actually meth.

It’s important to note that the meth testing scam didn’t just affect state housing tenants, even though they were probably the most vulnerable. It hit ordinary renters, homeowners, and landlords too. Lots of them, potentially. Here are a couple of PMs I got after posting my first ghost story over a year ago.

Hi, I am a real estate agent in [redacted]. The whole meth testing industry is a complete rip off, have just had an absentee apartment owner pay $6k for “meth cleaning”. I went to the apartment after it had been “cleaned” – nothing had been done, curtains and curtain linings etc exactly the same, GIB board, head boards, carpet even completely untouched, but they are making this owner pay through the nose for absolutely nothing. I don’t think I’m allowed to make any statements to the press without it going through my agency first but happy to help off the record to begin with. Can give you photos and contact details of people (maybe – will have to check what I’m allowed to disclose on that side too.) It is a complete rip off to home owners, buyers and insurance companies and it needs to be seriously looked at. Thanks for doing something about this issue.

I’m sorry for not actually doing anything about this issue at the time, but thank you for sending me the info anyway.

Another one:

My mate was in a bit of financial strife. Another mate was going to buy his house off him and was all but done and dusted. Part of the bank requirements was a meth test. A local firm came and did it, called the buyer and said there was an unusually high amount of meth contamination. They had to abandon the deal and both parties lost their lawyer fees etc.

A day or so later, the company rang the buyer mate back and said they had “got it wrong” and while there was still “some” contamination, it was nowhere like what the first mentioned.

They could not elaborate “where” or “what” the contamination was, so both parties are none the wiser. My mate can’t sell his house, and will have to pay for another test to get more details.

The thing is:
1) He’s single and definitely not a meth head. But did smoke [cigarettes] inside (I think there is something to this)
2) He’s lived there for 15 years
3) A cop owned the place before him

Its fucking dodgy if you ask me…

Fucking oath it’s dodgy. Maybe it’s not too late to do something. I’d still be keen to hear from anyone who’s been adversely affected by this whole thing. Will keep you anonymous if you want. Hit me up at josh(at); I can either write something up myself, or put you in touch with an actual journalist writing for somewhere reputable.

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