Denver, CO

Meth abatement in libraries quickly claims Denver headlines, but why?

Heather Willard

Heather Willard / NewsBreak Denver / Feb. 8, 2023

(Douglas County, Colo.) After a handful of Denver-area libraries issued methamphetamine abatement warnings in January, ranging from Boulder to Englewood, health departments, government and law enforcement started receiving questions.

Is there a danger to the public? Why are these test results appearing at the same time? How does testing work — and when is testing performed?

According to Sgt. Jeff Miller of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the popularity of using methamphetamine residue kits is rising.

“The test kits are not necessarily new technology, but they are now readily available online and are very affordable,” Miller said. “When methamphetamines are used, they leave toxic contaminates on surfaces and possibly in ventilation systems.”

The tests remove a residue sample from surfaces, such as a ventilation system, and submit it to a lab for testing.

“If these samples show residue over a certain level, the property is considered contaminated,” Miller said.

The Arapahoe County Public Health said that in public settings, most people are exposed to contamination for short periods of time. If there isn’t much contamination, the public health risk is minimal.

“The discovery of meth residue on surfaces is concerning and should always be taken seriously,” said Michele Askenazi, Arapahoe County Health Department director of environmental health, communicable disease, emergency preparedness and response. “Taking the appropriate action after testing is important and that’s why Arapahoe County Public Health created resources to help businesses and organizations better navigate next steps.”

Testing of large public or commercial buildings is not legally required unless there is a concern of contamination, such as in a foreclosed property or if there is known methamphetamine contamination. The health department does not recommend testing, given the low risk to the public.

“If there is no regulatory reason for a large public or commercial building to test for methamphetamine, the decision to move forward with proactive testing or testing out of curiosity should be done only after careful thought and deliberation”, said Dylan Garrison, Environmental Health Manager. “If there is a positive result following even voluntary testing, you’ll be required to report to the local public health authority and properly decontaminate/remediate using a certified contractor.”

Douglas County Libraries Executive Director Bob Pasicznyuk said in January that methamphetamine contamination has not been an issue in his district.

While we are concerned about these occurrences in colleague libraries, they haven’t presented an issue for us,” Pasicznyuk said. “We will remain vigilant to determine if this becomes a community issue or conversation.”

Amber DeBerry, a community engagement employee of the Douglas County Libraries, said the library’s leadership is “always analyzing risk” and affirmed building safety for library buildings.

Comments / 2

Published by

Public safety reporter in DougCo, Denver metro. Previously: Pueblo Chieftain public safety reporter, Athens Messenger associate editor. Caffeine fiend, cat mom and lover of all things spooky.

Broomfield, CO

More from Heather Willard

Comments / 0