Another School Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Attorney Gordon Johnson


Early reports of a school carbon monoxide poisoning in Ohio are just hitting the news. According to NewOK  a group of students and staff were evacuated and treated for carbon monoxide poisoning on Friday, January 6, 2017 from a school in Urbana, Ohio. Urbana is in western Ohio.

While officials are stating that no serious injuries were reported, we know that it doesn’t take very much carbon monoxide to severely injure people. Especially in school carbon monoxide poisoning situations, medical personnel often underestimate the severity of carbon monoxide poisoning because they don’t understand the potential for delayed symptoms. They also mistakenly believe that people with lower levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, are not at risk of serious problems. Even those whose peek carbon monoxide levels do not exceed 10%, can have serious long term consequences. See our earlier blog

Urbana, Ohio, school carbon monoxide poisoning

Urbana, Ohio, where the school carbon monoxide poisoning occurred is about 45 miles west of Columbus, Ohio.

What makes this determination even more difficult is that with children, the COHb level will drop much faster than in adults. We have seen again in this last month, a child with a COHb level below 5, with serious neurological problems. If there is a school carbon monoxide poisoning, any COHb level should be considered significant. Children can inhale the same air as their parents, get sick faster and then have their blood carbon monoxide drop at more than twice the rate. The reason’s are probably related to body mass size and more rapid respiration rate. But the quick drop in COHb levels does not mean they do not risk even worse consequences than their parents.

Our advice, if your child was in that school, take he or her to the hospital at once. Make sure they get a COHb blood level taken. Discuss with the doctors the need for hyperbaric oxygen therapy. If the doctor doesn’t know the answers, search on line for peer reviewed articles that call for this treatment with even lower levels of poisoning.

The Brain Injury Law Group represents dozens of children and teachers who have suffered carbon monoxide poisoning is schools. The school district is likely at fault in those cases and we have law suits involved in all of those cases. In September of 2014, the North Mac Middle School in Girard, IL was subject to a carbon monoxide leak which resulted in a significant poisoning to as many as 150 children and teachers. See  In the North Mac case, a broken vent to a hot water heater resulted in the release of carbon monoxide into the school rooms. We represent approximately 20 people poisoned in this event.

In October of 2015, the Prussing Elementary School in Chicago, IL also involved a mass poisoning. In the Prussing case, improper maintenance of the building’s main boilers resulted in the leak.

One problem in both of these school carbon monoxide poisoning’s was the inability to match the number of ambulance and emergency personnel with the number of people poisoned. In these cases, triage was difficult because the number of people in need of oxygen and transport to the hospital exceeded the capacity of the emergency response. This can especially be a problem in a small town such as Urbana, Ohio. If ambulance personnel didn’t transport the survivors directly, it is important that they be transported to the emergency rooms by family and friends.






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