City and health officials to confer on next steps when final report is delivered; earliest possible opening for community is Tuesday, Jan. 3

Preliminary test results show that meth contamination is confined largely to public restrooms, with some limited impacts to highly trafficked seating areas 

City and health officials to confer on next steps when final report is delivered; earliest possible opening for community is Tuesday, Jan. 3

After two rounds of additional testing late last week, the City of Boulder has received preliminary lab results that provide a clearer understanding about contamination from methamphetamine use in the Main Library at 1001 Arapahoe Ave.

These results suggest that nearly all the contamination is within the public-facing restrooms and on the surfaces of the exhaust ducts in these enclosed spaces. There is a limited amount of surface contamination in a few discrete locations in highly trafficked seating areas in the south portion of the building.

The restrooms and these seating areas will need to undergo professional remediation before they can be made accessible to the public. It is likely the impacted seating areas will be re-purposed for another use, with furniture that can be thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis. Consideration is being given to the level of restroom service the building will need in the future and how to ensure that no illegal activity occurs in these private and enclosed spaces. It is not yet clear if, and when, public restrooms will be brought back.

The goal, however, is to re-open as much of the facility as possible as soon as it is safe to do so.

The city has been in continual contact with state and county health officials since last week to understand the science behind meth contamination as well as the results specific to the Main Library.

Meth contamination is not primarily transmitted through air. The issue is the residue on surfaces that individuals can come into direct contact with, through touch, and then transmit on their skin and clothing to other surfaces.

It is important to understand that the meth contamination regulations and standards the industry follows were developed for the residential context where chronic exposure is likely, in particular, homes and apartments that have been used to manufacture meth. Episodic exposures, such as in public buildings, present much less threat to health. Additionally, thresholds for remediation set in Colorado are some of the most conservative in the nation, using an abundance of caution to protect infants and children from exposure.

Nonetheless, the results in the impacted areas are troubling.

The city expects to get a full report of results and findings from the environmental testing contractor tomorrow, Thursday, Dec. 29, or Friday, Dec. 30. As soon as this is available, the city and the health department will confer, determine a reasonable path forward, and develop phased remediation, re-opening, and ongoing cleaning plans.

The city has received numerous requests for the test results from the media and is committed to sharing these jointly with health officials once they are finalized. This release is expected within the next week.

In the meantime, the city is taking the following steps:

  • Gather bids for remediation work, pursuant to the city’s purchasing policy and requirements.
  • Consult with health officials on what must occur to restore access to the building for contractors and essential city staff.
  • Seal off the impacted areas of the library – i.e. the restrooms – and safely remove furniture in heavily trafficked seating areas that tested positive for meth residue.
  • Restore access to parts of the library that have not been affected.
  • Allow library staff to return as soon as it is safe to do so and begin making holds and reserved materials available to patrons.
  • Train newly contracted security personnel to prepare for re-opening to the community and ensure that security protocols are sufficient to prevent a repeat of this situation in the future.

The earliest the library building might be open to the public is Tuesday, Jan. 3. As a reminder, all branches are open for their regular hours, with the exception of the holiday schedule that had already been established over the New Year’s weekend.

No update is anticipated until Monday, Jan. 2, but the city is committed to transparency with the community and media. If more information become available before Jan. 2, an additional release will be issued.