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School carbon monoxide leak sends 40 children to hospital

Although the following story did not take place in Pennsylvania, we felt that it was worth discussing on our Pittsburgh personal injury law blog for one main reason: it could easily happen here. Pennsylvania law does not require either public or private schools to install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors, potentially putting thousands of children and teenagers at risk of injury or death. Hopefully, stories like the following will motivate lawmakers in Pennsylvania and around the country to enact carbon monoxide detector laws and mandates in order to protect kids from harm.

Earlier this week, more than 40 elementary school students and nearly 10 adults, including a teacher and a cafeteria worker, were taken to the hospital to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning. The remaining 500 students and staff of the school then evacuated the building in order to protect themselves from the deadly gas.

When firefighters investigated the contamination, they found carbon monoxide at a level of 1,700 parts per mission near a furnace at the school. According to poison control officials, the gas can be deadly at that concentration. Thankfully, none of the students and staff were seriously injured, and all are expected to make a full recovery.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that can cause serious harm and even death. Homeowners are encouraged to install carbon monoxide detectors in their homes in order to avoid poisoning. However, schools are not required to utilize such detectors. The school at which the children were injured did not have carbon monoxide detectors installed, which is the norm in that and many other states.

Source: Washington Post, "Deadly carbon monoxide levels at Atlanta elementary school send 42 kids, 7 adults to hospitals," Dec. 3, 2012

The attorneys at our Pennsylvania personal injury law firm help people who have been injured in incidents such as the one discussed above. For more information, please see our firm's premises liability page.

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