Watch CBS News

Boulder's main library closed due to high levels of methamphetamine

Boulder's main library closed due to high levels of methamphetamine
Boulder's main library closed due to high levels of methamphetamine 00:29

The city of Boulder closed its main library at 1001 Arapahoe Avenue on Monday afternoon for environmental testing after methamphetamine use was discovered in the facility's restrooms.

The testing will include swab samples of surfaces inside and outside of the restrooms.

"The question right now is whether these levels, which we're concerned about, are confined to the exhaust vents in the restrooms, or whether the residue has also developed or been deposited on parts of the library that people have more access to," said Sarah Huntley, spokesperson for the city of Boulder. "The biggest concern for methamphetamine contamination in short bursts like that... is if it's on the surfaces."  


According to the city, the decision to close the library was made after air duct testing on six restrooms showed residue inside the ducts that had higher-than-acceptable levels of methamphetamine.

Those ducts blow air and contaminants outside the building. It is unclear if any of those contaminants showed up on surfaces.

This comes after a recent spike in reports of individuals smoking in public restrooms over the past four weeks.

On two occasions, city employees were evaluated and cleared of ongoing health concerns after "experiencing symptoms consistent with a potential exposure to meth residue or fumes."


"This is truly a sad situation and represents the impact of a widespread epidemic in our country," said Library Director David Farnan in a statement. "The city is consulting with Boulder County Public Health officials and will take all steps necessary to prioritize safety. We are committed to transparency and appropriate remediation." 

The Meadows, George Reynolds, and NoBo Corner Library will remain open during the closure of the main library. Those employees at the main library will be reassigned to other city facilities or branch locations. 


There is no set timeline right now, but the results of the testing will guide the city's remediation plan for the library, as well as the level of restroom service offered to patrons moving forward. The latter is a much more complicated decision since the warmth and restrooms inside the public building can be crucial resources for people experiencing homelessness.

"We want to obviously provide people with opportunities to deal with their biological needs with privacy and dignity and easy access, but we also have to strike a balance for folks who might choose to use those same spaces for illegal activities," Huntley said.  

The city of Boulder also released this information: Symptoms of exposure to low levels of methamphetamine contamination 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.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.