UPDATED Proactive Testing at Bemis Library Finds Meth Contamination

Published on January 19, 2023

Bemis Library building


January 19:

Q. Why did the City of Littleton decide to test Bemis Public Library?
A. Following confirmation of methamphetamine contamination in Boulder and Englewood public libraries, the City of Littleton proactively decided to test Bemis Public Library out of an abundance of caution.  

Q. What areas were tested and what were the results?
A. Littleton retained the services of a third-party testing company, which tested library restrooms and ventilation systems. Tests were conducted on January 13, and results were provided to the city January 18. The tests showed levels of methamphetamine contamination exceeding state standards in three locations: the exhaust fans of the men’s and women’s restrooms on the main floor, and the gender-neutral restroom on the lower level. 

Q. What is the city doing about it?
A. City staff ordered the closure of the library upon receiving lab test results. Because initial testing found levels above state standards in restrooms, the City of Littleton will bring in professionals to test the remainder of the building. Following comprehensive testing, the city will take all steps necessary for full mitigation of contaminated areas.

Q. Was the city aware of drug use in the library?
A. While Bemis staff maintain a robust tracking system and enforcement of code of conduct violations, which prohibit smoking, vaping, and use of illegal drugs; staff have not witnessed active signs of drug use in the library. 

Q. How long have the restrooms been contaminated?
A. It is impossible to determine when the contamination occurred. 

Q. When will remediation work begin and what is involved? 
A. Remediation will begin as soon as comprehensive testing is complete and will be conducted in accordance with health and safety standards set forth by the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment.

Q. How long will clean-up take?
A. Remediation will take place as soon as possible, but the timeframe will be determined by the remediation contractor. 

Q. What security measures does the library use?
A. Bemis Public Library has a new 33-camera security system that monitors all public spaces, as well as a Littleton Police officer who works in the library 20 hours a week during peak hours. Staff use a robust incident reporting system when they observe violations of the Code of Conduct. Patrons who refuse to comply with the code of conduct are excluded from library property or referred to police. 

Click here to read the library’s code of conduct

Q. How is the City of Littleton paying for remediation work?
A. The city will work with its insurance carrier to cover as much of the testing and remediation costs  
as possible. 

Q. How will contamination be prevented in the future?
A. The City of Littleton is looking into air quality monitoring technology in the library. While 100% prevention is impossible due to restroom privacy expectations and laws, the library has explicit policies against smoking and illegal drug use, as well as newly-upgraded security cameras and regular police presence.

Q. Is this contamination related to people experiencing homelessness using the library?
A. Bemis Public Library is welcoming to all people who comply with its code of conduct. Littleton is working hard to increase services and outreach to the unhoused as part of the Tri-Cities Homelessness Initiative. 

Click here for more information about the Tri-Cities Homelessness Initiative

Q. What are the dangers of exposure? 
A. There is no indication at this time that individuals who have been in the library and its restrooms in recent weeks face significant health risks. Symptoms of exposure to low levels of methamphetamine can include headache, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. Individuals who have visited the library recently and are experiencing any of these symptoms should consult their healthcare practitioner. 

Q. What library services are available?
A. Fines and due dates for materials already checked out will be waived until further notice. Patrons may return items to the outdoor book drop or hold on to them until the library reopens. Patrons will not be able to pick up items on hold until further notice and holds may not be placed on materials at this time. 

Library staff are working to find alternate locations for some in-person programming and events, as well as providing virtual programming online. 

Click here to see Bemis Public Library’s digital collections and offerings

Original story published on January 18, 2023:

Proactive Testing at Bemis Public Library Finds Meth Contamination

Recent findings of methamphetamine contamination in the Boulder and Englewood libraries led the City of Littleton facilities staff to proactively test the bathrooms and ventilation systems at Bemis Public Library.  While no evidence of drug paraphernalia or use of drugs was observed by library staff, the testing was performed out of an abundance of caution. The findings indicate elevated levels requiring professional decontamination in the main floor women’s and men’s bathroom exhaust fans, and in the lower-level family bathroom.  As a result, Bemis Public Library will close immediately while testing is conducted throughout the entire building and mitigation is conducted in the contaminated areas. 

“The safety of our employees and library patrons is our first priority,” said Littleton City Manager Jim Becklenberg.  “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,” he added. 

The city will be working with experts experienced in testing and cleanup, and with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment as well as Arapahoe County Public Health, which will provide guidance through remediation and cleaning. 


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