The Bemis Public Library closed Jan. 18 after test results indicated elevated levels of methamphetamine contamination in several bathrooms.
A city statement, released after business hours on Jan. 18, did not say how long the library will be closed.
Recent findings of methamphetamine contamination at libraries in Englewood and Boulder, as well as the Englewood Civic Center, led the City of Littleton to perform testing out of “out of an abundance of caution,” according to the statement from the city.
The test findings indicated contamination in the main floor women’s and men’s bathroom exhaust fans and in the lower-level family bathroom, according to the city’s statement.
State board of health regulations mandate cleanup efforts if methamphetamine contamination levels exceed 0.5 micrograms/100 cm2. According to Littleton spokesperson Kelli Narde, test results from the exhaust fan of the main floor women’s restroom showed 5.1 micrograms/100 cm2. In the lower level unisex bathroom, results showed 2.2 micrograms/100 cm2.
Meth contamination levels in the main floor men’s restroom exhaust fan were more than 30 times the state’s threshold, at 15.4 micrograms/100 cm2, according to Narde.
“Our next step is going to be testing the remainder of the building because the testing that we did was really near the bathrooms and in the bathrooms,” Narde said. “Then we’ll know how much cleanup work needs to be done.”
According to Narde, contracters performed the testing on Jan. 13 and the city received results on Jan. 18. She said she does not know how long the next round of testing will take, how long remediation efforts will take or how long the library will be closed overall.
“Our facilities team is heading up that work with several subcontractors,” she said. “I think, you know, part of the challenge right now is being able to get the contractors on a quick timeline that we're hoping to achieve.”
Narde said there was no prior evidence of drug use in the library and the city does not know when the contamination occurred. They conducted the testing to be proactive after methamphetamine contamination was found at other libraries.
“It's unlike in other situations where they noticed a lot of illegal use of drugs inside the building,” she said. “Our staff hadn't seen any of that and we have very strict policies about smoking, vaping, use of illegal drugs in the building. And we have a really strong reporting system and we just haven't seen anything like that.”
At the Jan. 17 Littleton City Council meeting, City Manager Jim Becklenberg said the city contracted for testing services late in the previous week, due to the proximity of the Englewood library and the contamination found there.
“The safety of our employees and library patrons is our first priority,” Becklenberg said in the city’s Jan. 18 statement. “According to our partners at Arapahoe County Public Health, health risks to the public are considered low but we want to make sure our building is as safe as can be before we reopen it.”
Narde said city staff is discussing whether or not they might also test the Littleton Museum for contamination.
The city is working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Arapahoe County Public Health and testing and cleaning experts as they work to remediate the situation.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with information from the City of Littleton. This story will continue to be updated as information arises.
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