NewsCovering Colorado


Public health risk 'very low' from meth residue at libraries

Posted at 7:31 PM, Feb 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-27 07:49:29-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — Testing at public libraries along the front range of Colorado has uncovered meth residue in the bathrooms and ventilation systems of some branches.

It raises questions about the health risks to the public.

Districts are spending tens of thousands of dollars for testing and clean-up to ensure public safety, but what is the risk to someone who visited one of the libraries?

The risk of any sort of health effects from that exposure is very, very low,” said Colorado School of Public Health, Professor and Researcher, Dr. Mike Van Dyke, “ It's really hard for me to imagine any scenario where there is a significant risk from using a bathroom that's contaminated at the levels that we've seen across the front range.”

The residue levels at some library branches are high enough to require mitigation under Colorado standards.

Van Dyke explained it is also important to know Colorado’s meth residue standards were created for contamination of residential properties, not commercial ones.

“I think originally what we were thinking about is we didn't want people living in houses that were former meth cooks without those homes being cleaned up.”

In a library, any exposure is likely minimal.

In a home it is prolonged.

“We were thinking about kids living in homes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, crawling over surfaces, you know, getting their hands in their mouth,” said Van Dyke.

Van Dyke said it appears most of the testing found residue on ceiling and ventilation systems where it would be unusual for anyone from the public to touch.

Meth residue on common services like countertops can be cleaned with water and common solutions, so areas that were cleaned regularly are low risk.

“The good thing is that, you know, if you wash your hands, most of the meth is going to come off your hands, and you're not going to absorb it into your body. So it's just a very, very different situation than a residential exposure.”


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