Second Colorado library shuts due to meth contamination

A second US library has been forced to shut due to meth contamination.

Officials in a suburb near Denver, Colorado, shut down the Englewood library last week after test results showed contamination in the building’s toilets exceeded state thresholds.

Other spaces such as countertops also tested positive for lower levels of the drug and will require specialised cleaning, city spokesman Chris Harguth said.

Larger-scale work will also take place, including the removal of tainted surfaces, walls, ductwork and exhaust fan equipment.

Englewood, a city of about 33,000 people just south of Denver, tested for methamphetamine after officials in the nearby town of Boulder closed its main library after finding contamination.

Health officials say meth residue can be an irritant, causing symptoms like an itchy throat, a runny nose and bloodshot eyes.

But secondary exposure is not believed to cause long-term, chronic health concerns, Mr Harguth said.

Drug use is not common in the Englewood library, but reports of it have increased in recent months as colder weather led more people to visit, library director Christina Underhill said.

“The use of the library has changed,” she said. “More people are coming to use it as a shelter area.

“We’re very accommodating.”

Ms Underhill added that “there are some individuals who abuse this space and unfortunately put us in this position”.

Brenda Folsom, who was picking up her grandchildren from school near Englewood’s library last Thursday, said she has seen an increase in drug use in the area over the last two years, particularly at her local park.

She is concerned her three and eight-year-old grandsons, who go to the library with their father, and other curious children might pick up needles and other drug paraphernalia in its bathrooms.

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“I think if they would clean their restrooms a little more or paid attention to the restrooms and stuff or the people going in there, they wouldn’t have this problem,” Ms Folsom said.

Boulder officials suggested that their city’s library closure last month was the result of strict state rules for cleaning up meth.

They pointed out that standards for how much meth contamination is acceptable were developed with an eye toward homes, where frequent exposure is more likely than in public buildings.

Colorado’s rules are “some of the most conservative in the nation, using an abundance of caution to protect infants and children from exposure”, the city said in a statement on 28 December.

The Boulder library has since reopened but its bathrooms remain closed as crews carry out decontamination work including replacing fans and vents, spokesperson Annie Elliott said.

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