After Englewood’s public library and portions of its civic center closed Jan. 11 due to methamphetamine contamination, the city proactively conducted additional testing and received results Monday that show even more contamination in areas of its civic center.
Samples collected in the civic center’s south lobby on the first floor, as well as in the exhaust vents in the third-floor restrooms and “MOA restrooms” in the civic center “came back above threshold levels,” said Chris Harguth, the city’s director of communications, in an email Jan. 23.
“Walls and surfaces in the restrooms were found to pose no health risk, and the problematic test in the restrooms was limited to the exhaust vent,” Harguth wrote. “It is important to note the 3rd floor restrooms were public until a few years ago, and experts note that biproducts from contamination can remain for many years.”
According to a 2019 study published in the National Library of Medicine, residues of methamphetamine can “remain embedded in surfaces for years.”
Experts like Eric Hill, an emergency medicine physician and the EMS medical director for the Medical Center of Aurora, told Colorado Community Media the risk that secondary meth contamination in public spaces poses to the public is fairly low.
“I seriously doubt someone would be symptomatic related to exhaust vent residue in an exhaust vent. It certainly means that, yes, there was methamphetamine smoked in there, but I think the public health risk is fairly low on that,” Hill said.
Following the results, the civic center’s south lobby will be closed but “the Arapahoe County Health Department has informed the city that the 3rd floor restrooms can remain open until they can be cleaned,” Harguth said in the email.
The city’s public library, the north civic center lobby and the second-floor restrooms at the civic center were already closed due to methamphetamine contamination. The original testing the city did in early January cost approximately $2,800, Harguth said via email.
As of Jan. 23, the city is currently deciding between two state-certified contractors to begin the remediation process, with the current cost estimate being between $38,000 and $45,000, Harguth wrote.
Harguth previously told Colorado Community Media that the restrooms in the library and the restrooms on the second floor of the civic center were “of the greatest concerns and will probably require more extensive remediation.”
Other spaces in the library that tested positive for “lower levels of contamination” will need “specialized cleaning” rather than remediation, according to the city’s website.
“It is anticipated that the process will require a triple application of a mild detergent to clean the affected areas,” Harguth said in the Jan. 23 email. “The clean-up duration is expected to be from 15 to 30 days. The work will begin shortly after we sign a contract with our remediation vendor.”
“The city is working diligently to have the library and other facilities open safely and as quickly as possible,” he added.