Test results show minimal meth contamination affecting the Library
Colorado Springs (Feb. 28, 2023) -- This past weekend, Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD) and its Board of Trustees received the results of the methamphetamine contamination testing that took place at Penrose Library the week of February 19.
Samples taken from the walk-up pathways to the restrooms and in adjacent public spaces did not produce any actionable levels of contamination. The results were at or below the minimum level established by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) as acceptable. Simply put, the public areas of Penrose Library are not meth-affected.
During the initial testing two weeks ago, state certified consultant KEMWest identified several restrooms in Penrose Library that had been meth-affected. Additional tests in those rooms were conducted to determine exactly which surfaces are contaminated and at what levels the contamination exists.
The results from the restroom tests revealed that the only areas with actionable meth contamination above the acceptable limits are the exhaust system ductwork, fans, and vents in those spaces. Samples from all other surfaces in the restrooms did not result in any actionable contamination.
Based on the results, KEMWest made the recommendation that Penrose Library and Mobile Library Services can reopen to staff and public. This decision was made in close coordination with El Paso County Public Health and PPLD, who support KEMWest's recommendation. As such, Penrose Library and PPLD's Mobile Library Services will resume operation on Wed., March 1 at their regularly scheduled times.
“The safety of all Library patrons and staff is always a priority. I am grateful for Chief Librarian and CEO Teona Shainidze Krebs and her dedicated team that worked around the clock to ensure all the testing was completed and proper precautions were in place,” said Board of Trustees President Aaron Salt. “PPLD leadership worked closely with El Paso County Public Health and KEMWest to understand the impact of the results and create a safe, thoughtful reopening strategy for Penrose [Library]. We are pleased to learn that Penrose is safe. Library leadership is executing a plan that will ensure our libraries maintain safe conditions for all, so this will not be an issue in the future. The Board of Trustees thanks you for your understanding during this time and we look forward to seeing you at the Library soon.”
Penrose Library will reopen its restrooms as well. “Since airflow is moving away from occupied areas of the Library, the potential for people in the building to be exposed to meth from this contamination is very low,” said KEMWest President James DeValois, CIH.
In the coming weeks, PPLD will be contracting vendors to handle the cleaning or replacement of the contaminated equipment in the affected exhaust vents.
To mitigate future contamination, PPLD will install environmental sensors in all its public restrooms throughout the Library District. These sensors can detect changes in air quality and will alert PPLD’s Safety and Security team of a deviation. Trained team members will be dispatched to manage any issues as they occur. PPLD will begin the process of installing the sensors within the next several weeks.
For more information, please contact Denise M. Abbott at Dabbott@ppld.org or (719) 930-0225.
Feb. 18, 2023
On Wed., Feb. 8, Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD) started working with state certified vendor KEMWest Inc. to conduct initial screenings for methamphetamine contamination of the restrooms in the three most highly trafficked libraries throughout the District – East Library, Library 21c, Penrose Library (including the Special Collections Carnegie Library). The results of those screenings were presented to PPLD on Friday evening, Feb. 17.
Samples taken from East Library and the Special Collections Carnegie Library showed that one restroom in each location contained contamination at levels measuring above the minimum limit that the state has set for residential buildings of 0.25 micrograms per 100 centimeters, but below the maximum threshold of 0.5 micrograms per 100 centimeters. Results at this level trigger the need to proceed to the next level of testing, the preliminary assessment level. This level of tests narrows the results to the specific locations within the restroom that have been affected and determines to what extent they are affected. To allow further examination to be conducted, only these specific restrooms will be closed for use starting Sat., Feb. 18. East Library will be open to the public.
Screening samples of several restrooms in Penrose Library showed that they had been contaminated at levels above 0.5 micrograms per 100 centimeters, prompting the need for extensive preliminary assessment level testing for those restrooms and a few of the immediately adjacent areas. KEMWest Inc. recommended that PPLD close Penrose Library and the Mobile Library Services, which is housed at this location, while these tests are taking place. El Paso County Public Health supports the consultant’s recommendation. Penrose Library is likely to remain closed through the coming week, beginning Sat., Feb. 18.
When the results of preliminary assessment level of tests become available, they will be shared.
All other PPLD locations remain open.
As always, the safety and well-being of our staff and patrons are PPLD’s top priority. The Library will continue to work closely with KEMWest Inc. and El Paso County Public Health on this matter as we navigate our next steps.
Feb. 8, 2023
Out of a commitment to the safety of our staff and patrons, Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD) decided to proactively screen public restrooms for methamphetamine contamination after the recent reports from other affected libraries in Colorado.
Initially, we thought and reported that it would be necessary to conduct screening tests inside 53 public restrooms across the Library District. However, state authorities currently do not have standards or guidelines for assessing contamination levels in public restrooms. We also consulted with a state-certified vendor, El Paso County Public Health, and other Colorado libraries that recently conducted preliminary assessments.
With more information and guidance, Library leadership re-evaluated options and decided to screen public restrooms at PPLD locations with the highest number of patron visits, which are East Library, Library 21c, and Penrose Library. KEMWest Inc., a state-certified vendor, collected samples from those three Library facilities in early February, and results are expected by mid-February.
PPLD is working closely with El Paso County Public Health and KEMWest on this matter. All Library locations remain open and safe to visit at this time.
The safety and wellbeing of its patrons and staff remain a top priority for the Library District. PPLD will share more information and updates as they become available.
January 19, 2023
Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD) is aware of the recent incidents at three other public libraries in Colorado involving methamphetamine contamination inside one of their public restrooms. Though there is no known exposure at any PPLD facility, Library leadership is taking proactive action to ensure the safety and well-being of patrons and staff. All Library locations remain open to the public and are safe to visit.
As a precautionary measure, PPLD will contract a local vendor that’s certified by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) to conduct screening tests inside all public restrooms at 15 locations across the Library District. This testing will determine if there are any hazardous levels that need to be addressed. It could take up to 3 - 4 weeks to collect the samples at Library locations across El Paso County, complete the testing, and receive results.
PPLD will share information and updates as they become available.