State pushes for school carbon monoxide tests

by: Tom Regan Updated:

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ATLANTA —

The Georgia Department of Education is advising school districts across the state to test and access the risk of carbon monoxide leaks after last Monday's
carbon monoxide poisoning at an Atlanta school.

The incident at Finch Elementary School sent scores of children and adults to hospitals.

"We have had quite a few school systems contact our office ask the question 'Should we have sensors?" "Right now we're telling them be proactive, measure levels of carbon monoxide," said Matt Cardoza, Georgia Department of Education spokesman.

Georgia law doesn't require carbon monoxide testing in schools, learned Channel 2's Tom Regan. Cardoza said such a law may not be necessary because many newer HVAC do not emit the colorless, odorless gas that can be fatal. Nevertheless, he said school systems need to access any risk to students and take proper action. 

"What they need to do is evaluate the possibility of carbon monoxide in schools, take measurements and just evaluate and be proactive and take those precautions to make sure that's not happening." Cardoza said.

Regan visited Finch Elementary where the accidental leak from a boiler occurred last Monday.  A school spokesman showed him one of the new carbon monoxide detectors that have been installed in the school. The boiler that leaked has been removed, and replaced with an interim boiler until a new boiler is installed later this month. Detectors eventually will be installed in all Atlanta Public Schools.

"We want to identify why this happened and ensure that we do everything that we can, so it doesn't happen again," APS spokesman Stephen Alford said.

Alford said the carbon monoxide buildup happened after maintenance worker failed to re-open a valve. The cause was described as human error and the incident remains under investigation.
 
Officials said none of the children or adults exposed to the carbon monoxide gas was seriously injured.