Once again undetected Carbon Monoxide could have severely injured unsuspecting people.  Last night around 9:00pm an apartment building was evacuated in DePere Wisconsin.  The fire department was called in as some of the residents were experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.  It turns out that the levels of carbon monoxide rose to over 300 parts per million.  100 parts per million is considered a dangerous level and 200 parts per million is when the fire fighters are required to wear oxygen masks.

The fire department blamed a natural gas heater located in a warehouse behind and outside the living units of the apartment building.The gas made its way into the building where the residents were.  Thirty people were evacuated but only two were taken to the hospital.  The condition of these two is unknown.

Carbon monoxide can quickly soar to a high level before anyone is effected.   The article states that a monitor detected the carbon monoxide at 300 part per million but does not say whether that was a monitor that was in the building or one that the fire department brought in.  A CO detector in the living quarters may have prevented the exposure and prevented injury.  Everyone should have working carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of their residence.

We wonder why  only two out of the thirty residents were sent to the hospital for treatment.  What about the other twenty-eight?  They should also be tested for carbon monoxide poisoning, Even though they may not have been exhibiting symptoms of the exposure they may have been exposed to dangerous levels themselves.  All of them should have been tested.  There is a simple blood test to check for carbon monoxide, called a carboxyhemoglobin test.  Such test will provide clear evidence that someone has been exposed to carbon monoxide.  The test for carboxyhemoglobin is similar to a blood test for alcohol.  It will show if the toxin is there, but only if the blood is tested shortly after the exposure.  If not done within a day or two, the chances are the test will be irrelevant.

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