Disaster averted at apartment building in Boulder, CO

Several residents and animals were rescued from a Boulder, CO apartment building with dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide, according to ABC Denver.

Boulder, CO carbon monoxide poisoning

Make sure to install carbon monoxide detectors in your residence and business. It can be a life saver. Carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless, and colorless, so this might be the only way to know that there is a carbon monoxide poisoning. (Flickr / Creative Commons / Heather MG)

The building manager had called the fire department after figuring out that there was a carbon monoxide poisoning going on in the building. He heard the beeping sound of an alarm and received a call from a resident who said she was feeling ill.

The firefighters arrived on the scene at about 9 a.m., evacuated the building, and began taking tests.

They found that the building had 55 times the maximum recommended level of carbon monoxide in a building.

They rescued several residents, three dogs, and two cats, including a small kitten. They all had to be checked for carbon monoxide poisoning. Levels are checked by measuring the carboxyhemoglobin levels in the blood. This is the evidence that there was a poisoning, and levels go down as people are exposed to fresh air.

Carbon monoxide binds to hemoglobin with more affinity than oxygen. The brain suffers from lack of oxygen and failure to exhaust toxic materials that damage the brain. Hemoglobin usually carries oxygen to the brain, but not when there is severe carbon monoxide poisoning.

Small animals and children can be the first to suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning. They may suffer worse because they are so much smaller.

One of the areas that is most vulnerable to brain damage is the basal ganglia. DT Pulsipher, RO Hopkins, and LK Weaver wrote that carbon monoxide poisoning may result in focal and diffuse neuropathological changes, such as basal ganglia lesions.

This study assessed basal ganglia volumes using MRIs on day 1, after two weeks, and after six months of 73 patients who were poisoned by carbon monoxide. Of these patients, 28 percent had volume reduction in at least one basal ganglia structure by six months.

Two of these structures, the putamen and the globus pallidus, became important in the study. Smaller putamen and globus pallidus correlated with slower mental processing speed and impaired memory.

The apartment building in Boulder will be ventilated, and the construction crew will have to fix the leak in the boiler room.

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