High School Student’s Brain Injury Treatment Could Apply To CO Poisoning

A high school student developed a brain injury treatment that could potentially apply to carbon monoxide poisoning. One of the effects of CO poisoning is the brain damage caused by the lack of oxygen (anoxia) and the toxins released because of the CO (the neurotransmitter, glutamate). When a brain is injured, certain cells called astrocytes reduce their uptake of glutamate, which causes brain cell death.

This means there is too much glutamate hanging out in the brain. This is toxic to the brain cells or the neurons. If untreated, the neurotransmitter glutamate will kill neurons. This amounts to potentially permanent brain damage.

The 17-year-old student Indrani Das decided that she would try to mimic healthy neuron to astrocyte signaling. For her discovery, she won the top prize from the Regeneron Science Talent Search. Specifically, her treatment uses one microRNA inside an exosome. There has been growing interest in using exosomes for treatments.

Brain Injury Treatment

Indrani Das won the highest prize at the Regeneron Science Talent Search. She won for her potential brain injury treatment. (https://student.societyforscience.org/regeneron-sts)

This treatment has been tested on mouse neurons in a petri dish, but has not been tested on humans yet. In the mouse neurons, the treatment did work, which was a very exciting day for Indrani. This discovery has the potential to transform the way the brain injury community looks at brain injury. This treatment could shed a positive light on people who may have brain injuries in the future. This could add another line of defense in terms of brain injury treatment. In the mouse neuron test, the astrocytes, or the star-shaped glial cells of the central nervous system, did uptake more glutamate, the toxic neurotransmitter to neurons. This was great news, but her treatment still has to be tested on an actual brain injury. For more on her research, see the video below.

One of the potential avenues that this brain injury treatment could help with is the avenue of brain damage after carbon monoxide poisoning. Approximately 50,000 people are treated in hospitals annually for carbon monoxide poisoning. When you breathe in CO gas, it binds to hemoglobin, the protein found in red blood cells. Hemoglobin normally carries oxygen to the brain, but carbon monoxide binds to hemoglobin with about 200 times the affinity of oxygen. The lack of oxygen in the brain is called anoxia. The higher levels of glutamate in the brain are toxic to neurons.

Indrani’s treatment could help reduce the toxic effects of glutamate in the brain. Her research can not only apply to traumatic brain injury as a result of a car accident or sports injury, but it could also potentially help the people that deal with CO poisoning. CO poisoning is not an isolated incident. Neurological and behavioral symptoms can crop up in the two to 40 days after the poisoning. If this treatment is tested and found to be an effective treatment for brain injury, it’s possible these after effects could be reduced.

It’s amazing how a high school student could make a discovery that could transform the way that brain injury is treated. She definitely deserves the commendations she received. Although still just tested in mouse neurons, the treatment has the potential to also be successful in humans. In this case, I would think that carbon monoxide poisoning would be a great area of interest for research in this area. The brain damage that is caused by CO poisoning sounds like it might benefit from Indrani’s treatment, which mimics healthy astrocyte to neuron signaling. In her treatment, it helps the astrocytes uptake the glutamate, so the toxins aren’t hanging out in and damaging the brain. Nonetheless, hopefully her research reaches the people who make decisions about how to treat brain injuries in the future.

It is unlikely that this particular treatment will be a breakthough. But what is the most exciting is that a new generation of minds is chasing this elusive goal of curing what has always been thought to be irreversible brain damage. We hope that Ms. Das stays in the field of medicine as she progresses through her education. We need her and thousands of other bright minds to be the future brain injury experts.

Pet Saves Couple from Reedsburg, WI Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Reedsburg, WI Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

A couple in the Reedsburg, WI carbon monoxide poisoning were alerted to the problem by their family cat, Gracie. She was fussing and begging to enter the bedroom, unusual behavior for the Shanahan’s cat. When the man got up to check on the cat, he saw his wife’s stiff body clutching her chest and a blank stare into space on her face.

The man, Kevin Shanahan, felt sick when he stood up. He decided to help his wife, Annette Shanahan, down the stairs. Something occurred to him that it could be carbon monoxide poisoning. He decided to open a window, but did not go outside.

The man admitted that they were very foggy. It was hard to think in the moment that going outside would be the right decision. But he did manage to call his son, who was not far and made it over to help his parents outside. Emergency personnel arrived within minutes. A Medflight was also called as backup.

Annette vaguely remembers telling the first responders that she couldn’t breathe. Chest pains and fatigue can be caused by carbon monoxide in people with heart conditions. Kevin remembers telling first responders that the cat had saved their lives.

With carbon monoxide, it’s possible that the person or people just decide they aren’t feeling well and go to bed. They might think they have the flu or food poisoning. When they go to bed, they fall asleep, and can die in their peaceful slumber. However, in the Reedsburg, WI carbon monoxide poisoning, one of the family cats, Gracie, had made sure that wouldn’t happen. Her fussing at the door to their bedroom saved the couple’s life that night.

Reedsburg, WI Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Gracie, the nine-year-old, long-haired female, alerted the couple in the story to the Reedsburg, WI carbon monoxide poisoning. If it weren’t for her, the couple may have went to bed and passed away in their sleep.

Levels in the Reedsburg, WI Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The levels of carbon monoxide in the Reedsburg, WI home were about 620 parts per million (ppm) in the second floor. The fire department found 240 ppm on the main floor of the home, and 150 ppm in the basement. As a note, it can be helpful to first responders to have a carbon monoxide detector that gives peak readings, so they know what the levels were at their highest. With levels this high, symptoms could appear within a couple of hours that might include headaches, dizziness, and nausea.

The source of the carbon monoxide was discovered to be a frozen flap to the vent on a hot water heater. In the winter, problems such as this become a very real risk. In some cases, snow or ice might block vents, not allowing carbon monoxide to be exhausted. In addition, it’s helpful as a precaution to get your furnace professionally serviced once a year.

Another precaution to take is installing carbon monoxide alarms. The Shanahans said they had a carbon monoxide alarm, but it was 15 years old and didn’t work. With levels so high, it should have gone off. They bought four new carbon monoxide alarms after the Reedsburg, WI carbon monoxide poisoning. They also purchased a new hot water heater.

One of the themes of these horrendous carbon monoxide stories is the precautions that survivors take after the incident by buying new carbon monoxide alarms. Some even go further and try to raise awareness about keeping working carbon monoxide alarms in residences and businesses.

Finding Gracie

The Shanahan family had three cats. They were concerned that they may have been hurt in the Reedsburg, WI carbon monoxide poisoning. One of the cats was found by the Humane Society pretty easily, approaching the strangers for a scratch behind the ears. The other two cats, including the hero, Gracie, were more skittish and not to be found by the Humane Society. When the Shanahans returned home, they found the male, Emeril, pretty quickly. They were looking for Gracie, hoping for the best, when they saw fur in the basement behind a storage bin. Annette described hoping the cat still be breathing. Fortunately, Gracie was very much alive and ran upstairs, escaping the hold of her worried owner. Carbon monoxide can affect small pets, such as cats, more than adults, because they have smaller bodies and can be more affected. Luckily, everyone in this story survived.

Idaho Police Concerned About Ford Explorer SUV Carbon Monoxide Leak

Ford Explorer SUV Carbon Monoxide Leak True For Teton County, Idaho

A sheriff in East Idaho is worried about the Ford Explorer SUV carbon monoxide leak. The Ford vehicles are like regular Ford Explorers, but designed for law enforcement use. The sheriff of Teton County is concerned about the three 2016 Ford Police Interceptor SUVs that they own. The issue is that sometimes the exhaust can slip back into the vehicle causing a carbon monoxide hazard.

This has caused problems in the past, according to the East Idaho News. One police officer from Newport Beach even blacked out while driving with no other explanation besides carbon monoxide. It goes without saying that this is a very risky situation. It is extremely dangerous. Police are supposed to be the people that help keep the roads safe. They should have cars that operate on the roadways safely.

The sheriff was disappointed because the automaker was not doing anything to address his concerns about the Ford Explorer SUV carbon monoxide leak. This was not an isolated incident. Hundreds of drivers have complained about the exhaust leaking into the cabins of the vehicles. When this happens, carbon monoxide poisoning can occur and can be deadly, especially while driving a car. Not only is there a poisoning risk, but there’s also a crash risk if the person loses consciousness. The police officer mentioned earlier probably came within inches of his life. He actually crashed into a tree after blacking out behind the wheel of his Ford SUV.

Ford Explorer SUV Carbon Monoxide Leak

Police are supposed to keep the roads safe. They are putting themselves and others at risk with the issue of the Ford Explorer SUV carbon monoxide leak, where exhaust can slip back into the cabin.

Ford Explorer SUV Carbon Monoxide Leak, True For Other Counties As Well?

The concerns about the Ford Explorer SUV carbon monoxide leak for Teton County, Idaho were well documented in the East Idaho News. However, it is unlikely that this is the only county that is being affected. The police officer who blacked out behind the wheel was from Newport Beach. The article even documented many other counties in the East Idaho region that used the same Ford Police Interceptor SUVs. In fact, almost every law enforcement agency in East Idaho used multiples of that same car.

In 2016, Ford had sold 9,472 Police Interceptor sedans and 32,213 Police Interceptor SUVs, according to the Chicago Tribune. Ford currently builds its police vehicles in Chicago. That is quite a number of Ford SUVs that could have potential problems with carbon monoxide leaks. More than 30,000 police cars are putting the safety of the roads at risk.

The Automaker Did Not Act on the Ford Explorer SUV Carbon Monoxide Leak

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an investigation into these vehicles, because they have received more than 400 complaints from individuals. The Teton County, Idaho Sheriff was disappointed that Ford did not notify the users of the vehicle about the problem with this popular vehicle for law enforcement. In a statement from Ford to USA Today, they said it “poses no safety risk.” This is hard to believe when a police officer has already blacked out behind the wheel and hit a tree.

Taking Precautions Against the Ford Explorer SUV Carbon Monoxide Leak

The Teton County Sheriff installed carbon monoxide alarms in the police vehicles to notify them when carbon monoxide has leaked into their vehicles. When the alarm sounds, they open windows to ventilate the car. This is not something that should be happening in police vehicles. Other police departments are hearing of the danger and following suit by putting carbon monoxide alarms in their vehicles. It’s a shame this has to be done at all.

Two Carbon Monoxide Stories In The News Yesterday

At least two carbon monoxide stories appeared in the news yesterday, one in Mosinee, WI and the other in Atlanta, GA. This is two too many. It is becoming disheartening seeing all of the carbon monoxide poisoning that occurs and that could be prevented with simple actions. The stories may have different details, but they are always similar in some way. There is always some culprit that caused CO to leak, and the levels could have been detected or prevented. We will take a closer look at the two carbon monoxide poisoning incidents that sent people to their local hospitals this week.

Carbon Monoxide Stories: Mosinee, WI

This Mosinee, WI man went to the hospital in Milwaukee after suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning a couple of weeks ago, according to WAOW. It is not necessarily explained in the article why he is going to the hospital for something that happened weeks ago; however, we do know that carbon monoxide poisoning can cause delayed neurological and behavioral symptoms in the two to 40 days following the poisoning. This is called delayed neurological sequelae, and it’s possible he received treatment for that.

The situation the Mosinee, WI man was that he lost power due to a wind storm that slammed the city. In response to losing power, he ran a generator in his garage to try to restore power. He lost consciousness after he put the power generator in his garage. In the wake of storms, people are more likely to use generators for power because their power might go out during the storm. It is important to remember that even a small generator can be deadly due to carbon monoxide. The rule of thumb is always to operate a generator outside, downwind, and away from windows and doors. Never operate a generator in an enclosed space like in a garage or crawl space. The consequences could be deadly.

Carbon monoxide stories

With spring storms coming, be aware of how to safely operate a generator. Carbon monoxide stories in the news, though unfortunate, illustrate the importance of knowing how to properly operate a generator.

The fire chief also reminded people to make sure they clean their furnaces and chimney to avoid CO poisoning. Having your furnace checked by a professional once a year is a good idea. Installing carbon monoxide detectors in your home or business is also important, so the alarm can alert you to dangerous levels of the gas. These are all ways to try to prevent damages from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon Monoxide Stories: Atlanta, GA

The other of the carbon monoxide stories took place in Atlanta, GA, according to Golden Isles News. The Atlanta story affected 10 people, four children and six adults, who were hospitalized. There were 10 people in the home when the group became sick from carbon monoxide gas. They were transported to an Atlanta hospital Monday evening. The story stated that they started feeling sick Sunday night, but assumed it was food poisoning. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can resemble the flu or food poisoning. They include headaches, nausea, dizziness, and vomiting. The residents may have eaten together, so it wasn’t unreasonable to think that the culprit was food poisoning. Having a carbon monoxide alarm would also have helped in this case to indicate that the sickness was from carbon monoxide, not food poisoning.

Fire District Works to Raise Carbon Monoxide Detector Awareness in Plainfield, IL

Fire District Works to Raise Carbon Monoxide Detector Awareness in Plainfield, IL

When a tragedy strikes, sometimes people will take action, as did the Plainfield Fire District raising carbon monoxide detector awareness after a poisoning. It has been four months since a woman and her daughter died in their Plainfield, IL home due to carbon monoxide poisoning. The poisoning killed three of their pets and sickened five police officers who did a wellbeing check on the house, according to the Herald News.

Carbon Monoxide Detector Awareness

The police officers who arrived on the scene received treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning. It was after this tragedy that the fire district and Carlini’s family started raising carbon monoxide detector awareness.

In 2016, the mother and daughter who died in November were not alone. Another Plainfield resident had died earlier that year. Ever since Denise and her daughter died, there has been a movement to raise carbon monoxide detector awareness.

Before Christmas, friends of the Carlini family started a GoFundMe page to collect $7,500 to buy new carbon monoxide detectors. The page raised more than the goal, $8,400. They purchased 300 detectors and distributed them before the holidays at food drives. Ray Carlini was also vocal about not letting one other person die from carbon monoxide because they were not aware of the dangers of it.

Just a month after the November poisoning, the fire district and Kidde partnered, with Kidde donating 150 detectors to the district. Officials then identified households that needed detectors. People who need detectors installed as well as proper service and usage tips, may simply contact the Plainfield fire department. They began installing detectors in homes in February.

This kind of effort to raise carbon monoxide detector awareness is valiant. As Ray Carlini says, hopefully not one more person will suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning because they were unaware. It is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, making the detectors necessary, and it is a byproduct of the incomplete burning of coal, wood, charcoal, natural gas, fuel oil, kerosene, gasoline, fabrics and plastics. As the number one cause of poisoning deaths in the United States, carbon monoxide is a serious threat, with 430 Americans dying each year and many more being sickened. However valiant the effort for carbon monoxide detector awareness is, people need to make sure that they are buying the right kind of carbon monoxide detector. We will go into this next.

What Kind of Carbon Monoxide Detector Should I Buy For My Residence?

Last week, Consumer Reports cautioned people not to buy these three off-brand carbon monoxide detectors:

  • NetBoat WB_H3110061 LCD Portable Security Gas CO Carbon Poisoning Monitor (Amazon)
  • Foho YJ-806 LCD Portable Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Monitor Alarm (Amazon)
  • GoChange 882 LCD Portable Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Monitor Alarm (eBay)
Carbon Monoxide Detector Awareness

Raising carbon monoxide detector awareness can help save lives. Make sure you have the right kind of carbon monoxide detector installed in your home. (Flickr / Creative Commons / HeatherMG)

When looking at laws pertaining to the requirement of carbon monoxide detectors in homes, the law usually requires a carbon monoxide detector that has been approved by Underwriter’s Lab. A detector that meets the UL’s carbon monoxide alarm standard (UL-2034) will carry a logo that indicates that. None of the above three carbon monoxide detectors had that logo. Consumer Reports also recommends that the carbon monoxide detector in your residence carry that UL certification.

The problems with the alarms varied. Two of them failed to go off when CO levels reached 100 ppm. The third alarm presented a different problem, where the alarm sounded too quickly. This can be considered a nuisance alarm and turned off when there is actually a problem.

Another helpful aspect of a carbon monoxide alarm is if the alarm has a digital readout. This will tell you exactly how high the levels of carbon monoxide are in the residence. Also helpful is a detector that gives the peak level, which can be helpful to first responders determining the severity of the situation. Consumer Reports also recommends placing a carbon monoxide detector on each level of the home, including the basement and near an attached garage.

An added level of protection, according to Consumer Reports, comes with having an interconnected alarm. They recommend OneLink SCO501CN. If there is carbon monoxide in the basement, the second floor alarm will sound, notifying you quickly to danger. The standalone alarm recommended by Consumer Reports is the First Alert CO615.

However, the one I personally recommend is one made by CO experts. It is expensive, but I  never travel without it. http://coexperts.com/  It is kept in my suitcase on every trip and I have several in my home and one in my office as well. I want that alarm whenever I am indoors, especially everywhere I sleep.

The alarms apparently didn’t go off in the Bourbonnais LeVasseur Elementary incident last week. Certainly, alarms that alarm before the human body detects the carbon monoxide is a necessity.

Attorney Gordon Johnson

Carbon Monoxide Detector Awareness

Manitowoc, WI Poisoning Sickened Several People

The Manitowoc, WI poisoning affected several people in the apartments and a restaurant in the building on Washington Street on October 31, 2016. The story was reported in the Herald Times Reporter. The first responders had a rescue squad set up on Washington Street, where sick, some unconscious people were being carried. This is almost like a scene from a horror movie, numerous unconscious bodies being carried out of a building.

The Fire Department had discovered that there were high levels of carbon monoxide in the building, banning anyone else from entering. One of the officers at the scene observed two firemen carrying an unconscious male down the steps. He assisted lifting the male onto a gurney and to the rescue squad, where he would be transported to the hospital.

This unconscious male was not the only one who was injured from the Manitowoc, WI poisoning, which affected both a restaurant and the apartments above. There were three victims from Apt. 5; one from Apt. 3; one from Apt. 2; and five from Apt. 1. Four employees of the cafe were affected, and three customers. That makes a total of 17 victims who were transported to local hospitals after authorities arrived at 9:15 that morning.

Manitowoc, WI poisoning

This is a shot of the inside of Susie Kay’s Cafe, the site of the Manitowoc, WI poisoning. It is located at 1110 Washington St. (Facebook)

The restaurant was cleared of all employees and customers that morning, too. An investigation into the source of the carbon monoxide was done that day, while the restaurant was closed until further notice.

Victims of the Manitowoc, WI Poisoning

The emergency call was made from Apt. 5 from the family who said they were not feeling well. When emergency personnel arrived, they found an adult male, adult female, and child all unconscious.

The victim from Apt. 3 was unconscious when removed by emergency personnel. In the ambulance, he coded, and was transported by helicopter to St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee.

Manitowoc, WI Poisoning

There was one victim in the Manitowoc, WI poisoning that had to be flown by helicopter to the hospital.

The resident in Apt. 2 was identified as conscious and was removed from the building. In Apt. 5, there was a family of four babysitting a third child. All five of them were found unconscious. Apt. 4 was empty.

According to Wisconsin law, multifamily residences are required to have carbon monoxide detectors to be provided by the landlord. Rep. Paul Tittl was owner of the building. Tittl owns 1106, 1108, 1110, and 1112 Washington St. When asked if the units had carbon monoxide detectors in them, Tittl replied that he did not believe so. The fire chief confirmed that no carbon monoxide detectors were found in the apartments, hallways, or the restaurant. Complying with the law and installing CO detectors could have been an easy way to prevent the tragedy.  

In the cafe, there were five customers and four employees. Two customers left before being identified, leaving three customers who sought medical treatment after the poisoning. Some areas of the building were more than 300 ppm. The problem with carbon monoxide poisoning is that the symptoms can appear weeks after the actual poisoning. This phenomenon is called delayed neurological sequelae, so it’s important to receive medical treatment and follow up.

Manitowoc, WI Poisoning

Neurological symptoms can crop up in the weeks following a carbon monoxide poisoning. There were several unconscious people in the Manitowoc, WI poisoning that probably have faced neurological issues after the incident.

Cause of Manitowoc, WI Poisoning Speculated

It was speculated in the police report that the source of the carbon monoxide poisoning was a blocked vent. It’s also possible the low water safety sensor on the boiler failed. If there is not enough water in the boiler, the tank could overheat and break and then gas could leak out. Upon examination of the heat exchanger, there were areas where the silicon had melted away and there were gaps. This is definitely an area where the carbon monoxide gas could have leaked.

Bourbonnais CO Poisoning Sent At Least 48 to the Hospital

While no dangerous carbon monoxide (CO) levels have yet been identified in the Bourbonnais CO poisoning, several staff and students had elevated CO levels, according to a statement released by the Bourbonnais Elementary School District. The building was still evacuated as more students presented with headaches and nausea, according to the press release by the Bourbonnais Fire Department.

The HVAC contractor and the fire department conducted an investigation and found that the backup power generator test cycle timer had malfunctioned, according to the school’s statement. The breezy weather drew some of the exhaust back into the building.

Bourbonnais CO Poisoning

Bourbonnais CO Poisoning at LeVasseur Elementary School still under investigation.

Electric generators have far dirtier emissions than they should. This issue has been subject of a proposed rule in front of the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commision. Attorney Gordon Johnson testified on March 8, 2017 of the dangers of carbon monoxide from these generators. See below for a portion of his testimony demanding to know why the generator industry has not gotten its carbon monoxide emissions to something comparable to cars, where 99% of carbon monoxide has been eliminated. The generator industry drags its feet and a school full of children get poisoned.

From Attorney Johnson’s prepared remarks before his testimony at the CPSC:

Today, cars have such reduced emissions that the risk of suicide from CO from running your car in the garage is dramatically reduced. Yet, accidental deaths from the internal combustion engines the generator industry uses to power their generators marches on. Is it because we have not learned to clean up emissions from internal combustion engines? Of course not. Is it because there is no need to clean up emissions? Of course not. Is it because no one has ever made them stop? Yes.

Since the poisoning yesterday, they tested the entire building for air quality, permanently disabled the generator, placed CO detectors in every classroom, and will have both the fire department and HVAC contractor on site to continue to monitor air quality tomorrow.

The total of 48 patients were taken to both Kankakee hospitals. That number may be even higher because some parents refused treatment and took their children to the hospitals later. They separated the sick students from non-sick students on the front lawn. Sick students and teachers were taken to the two hospitals. The other students were transported to Liberty Intermediate School, where more students reported feeling ill and also went to the hospital later. People online also seemed confused as to why there were no levels of CO in the building, but there were levels of CO found in the blood of victims and many sick people, sick enough to go to the hospital.

Bourbonnais CO poisoning

When a patient presents symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, as the people in the Bourbonnais CO poisoning did, doctors will take a blood test to determine carboxyhemoglobin level. (Flickr / Creative Commons / Wellcome Images)

A blood test is used to determine the percentage of carbon monoxide in the blood. This is called the carboxyhemoglobin level. The test measures the amount of hemoglobin that has bonded with carbon monoxide. Hemoglobin is a protein in red bloods cells that bind to oxygen. Carbon monoxide binds to hemoglobin with about 200 times the affinity of oxygen. This puts the brain at serious risk of damage if the brain is oxygen deprived and toxins are released into the brain from the carbon monoxide.

Hyperbaric oxygen is the best treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning. It will reduce the cognitive sequelae down the road. It is usually only done for people with severe carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s not clear whether these students and adults received this treatment.

It’s still not totally clear why the fire department found no carbon monoxide in the building in the Bourbonnais CO poisoning, but found it in the blood of some of the victims. The symptoms were the indicator that there was a problem with carbon monoxide in the building. Although no carbon monoxide detectors had gone off, Superintendent Dan Hollowell said he had added CO detectors to every classroom.

The Bourbonnais CO poisoning was unfortunate. Schools in Illinois should be equipped with carbon monoxide alarms, according to the law. It’s still not clear if any alarms went off, but it appears the CO alarms were missing from the classrooms. It is important to have the CO alarms where the people are, and not just hidden in a boiler room, where people can possibly not hear it.

Bourbonnais Fire Dept. on LeVasseur Elementary School Carbon Monoxide

Fire Department Press Release on LeVasseur Elementary School Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

From: Jen Warmoth 

Subject: 3/16/2017 – Press Release

At 1:02 pm the Bourbonnais Fire Protection District responded to 601 W. Bethel (LeVasseur Elementary School) for an unknown odor in the building.  We responded with an engine and ambulance.  No readings of CO or readings of elevated levels of natural gas were found.  While on scene faculty members approached our personnel reporting several students with headaches and nausea.  As time passed more and more students presented with similar symptoms. 

The decision was made to evacuate the entire school.  Faculty separated students w/o symptoms and all students with symptoms were moved to the front entrance of the school.  Buses arrived and the non-sick students and faculty were transported to Liberty Intermediate School, 1690 N Career Center Road in Bourbonnais.

LeVasseur Elementary School Carbon Monoxide Second Wave of Hospitalizations

A total of 22 students and 3 faculty were transported to both hospitals in Kankakee.  CO readings were present in many of these patients with readings ranging from 2-10 ppm.  We did not have any reading inside the school from CO.

At 3:01 as we were completing our work at LeVasseur, we received reports of more victims at Liberty Intermediate School at 1690 N Career center Road.  Readings of CO ranged from 2-10 ppm.  When all was said and done a total of 48 patients were taken to both Kankakee Hospitals from the two schools.  In addition some parents refused treatment of their children but later transported them to both hospitals for evaluation.

 Ed St. Louis

Fire Chief, Bourbonnais FPD



Carbon Monoxide School Poisoning in Bourbonnais Noel LeVasseur Elementary School

School Poisoning in Bourbonnais Blamed on Carbon Monoxide

By Attorney Gordon Johnson

Carbon Monoxide strikes another school again in Illinois, this time it is a in school poisoning in Bourbonnais. Around 30 students and three adults were taken to hospitals on March 16, 2017 after a carbon monoxide exposure at Noel LeVasseur Elementary School in Bourbonnais. The school poisoning in Bourbonnais is at least the fourth such poisoning in Illinois in the last few years.

We represent in excess of 35 people in the litigation around two of these poisonings, the first at the North Mac Middle School in Girard and the second, the Prussing Elementary School in Chicago. The third school poisoning was another Chicago school, the Horace Mann Middle School, where the carbon monoxide alarms warned of the danger and resulted in an earlier evacuation. See https://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20151203/south-shore/carbon-monoxide-detected-at-south-side-school-20-kids-treated-officials 

school poisoning in Bourbonnais, carbon monoxide keeps happening.

The school poisoning in Bourbonnais is the fourth Illinois school struck by carbon monoxide in recent years. Shown here is the Prussing Elementary School in Chicago, hit by carbon monoxide in 2015.

The first question we are asking tonight after the School Poisoning in Bourbonnais is what about the carbon monoxide alarms. After the North Mac Middle School carbon monoxide poisoning, Illinois passed a law requiring all schools to have carbon monoxide alarms. Did those alarms go off at the Noel LeVasseur Elementary School? If not, why didn’t they?

The strangest fact in this story is that the fire department didn’t find carbon monoxide after the evacuation. Yet, not only were the initial group of people found to have carbon monoxide exposure, but a second round of children and adults subsequently got sick. Many times carbon monoxide exposure cases are brought successfully without day of incident carbon monoxide because the poisoning is discovered after the fact. But here, it is a major ongoing question as to why the fire department didn’t find the poisoning after the evacuation. We will be watching carefully the followup investigation for more details.

As I said in my testimony in front of the U.S. Consumer Products safety commission last week, the human body is a carbon monoxide detector. Illness is often the first warning that the poison is afoot. Too often, it is only when multiple people get the same symptoms contemporaneously, is the connection made that carbon monoxide is the culprit. Here, the human detectors alarmed of the presence of the carbon monoxide poison. That is the strongest piece of evidence we have so far, and it is incontrovertible proof.

Michigan CO Poisoning Could Have Been Fatal

A Michigan CO poisoning was not deadly, thanks to the family’s carbon monoxide alarm. A mother and her young child were saved by a carbon monoxide alarm at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning in Portland, Mich, according to the Ionia Sentinel-Standard. The two were transported to Sparrow Ionia Hospital.

Michigan CO Poisoning

The two victims of the Michigan CO poisoning were taken to Sparrow Ionia Hospital in Ionia, Michigan. The new facility that replaced the old just opened in June 2015, making it the first new hospital in the mid-Michigan region in decades. (Sparrow Ionia Hospital)

Upon arrival of emergency personnel, the mother and child appeared groggy and disoriented. These are symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Disorientation would not occur before carbon monoxide levels were potentially serious. The organ that is perhaps most affected by carbon monoxide poisoning is the brain. Brain damage is likely to occur in up to 40 percent of those who have disorientation at the time of the poisoning. Even though the victims here did not die, it is possible they may have permanent brain damage from the event.

Carbon monoxide poisoning, such as the Michigan CO poisoning we see here, is not merely a matter of oxygen deprivation. In the process of poisoning, toxins are also released. The parts of the brain that are most affected by carbon monoxide poisoning are deep in the brain. That is because these parts of the brain are last on the brain’s oxygen route.

The hippocampus is particularly vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning. It sits deep on the brain’s oxygen route. It also releases a toxin called glutamate in oxygen poor conditions. The hippocampus is the brain’s memory center, which is why we would see people have memory issues following a carbon monoxide poisoning. These memory issues can make it difficult to function academically or professionally, or even in everyday life. For a good article on the effect of carbon monoxide on the brain, you may want to read this article called Gas Attack: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.

Michigan CO Poisoning

The confusion one experiences in carbon monoxide poisoning, like the people in the Michigan CO poisoning, is likely due to damage in the brain. As pictured, the hippocampus sits deep in the brain, last on the brain’s oxygen route, making it more prone to damage. (The Brain Made Simple)

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include confusion, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. They can resemble symptoms of the flu. But it is also important to remember the permanent brain damage that can be caused by even low concentrations of the gas. The weeks following the poisoning will be the time when brain damage can worsen, and neurological symptoms begin to appear. This is called delayed neurological sequelae, or DNS, meaning neurological symptoms that occur after the poisoning.

DNS can occur two to 40 days after the poisoning. Many people are released from the hospital with no warning of the potential for a serious recurrence of neurological and behavioral problems. And it can become worse over time. The toxic effects of the poisoning persist even weeks after the poisoning. The symptoms of DNS include memory loss, confusion, seizures, urinary incontinence, loss of bowel function, disorientation, hallucinations, psychosis and balance and dizziness. DNS is related to “brain lipid peroxidation,” which has to do with the formation of nitric oxide in the blood stream. This involves free radicals stealing electrons from lipids, resulting in cell damage. The risk of DNS increases the longer the victim is unconscious, and increases in victims over the age of 30.

The Michigan carbon monoxide poisoning had levels of 105 ppm at the door and 245 ppm in the basement, likely where the source of the gas was.

When carbon monoxide enters the body, it binds to hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. CO binds to hemoglobin with 200 times the affinity of oxygen. When the body can’t get enough oxygen, the condition is called anoxia. As mentioned before, anoxia is not the only problem; CO is also toxic to the cells.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious problem that requires explanation of the symptoms that can appear in the following weeks after the initial poisoning. Patients really should receive a discharge plan following a carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide can be deadly, and if not deadly, it can cause permanent brain damage.