An estimated 60 and 70 people were evacuated Tuesday night from a church in Milwaukee when high carbon monoxide levels were found at the building, according to a story by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Fire fighters were responding to a medical emergency at the Word of God Worship Center at 3320 W. Vliet St. when a paramedic’s carbon monoxide detector registered elevated carbon monoxide levels, the paper reported.
The man who needed medical attention was taken to a hospital. l
No information was available on the patient, who was taken to a local hospital, Poliak said.
The people who were evacuated didn’t have any signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. The incident was being probed by authorities.

For a better understanding the full consequences of carbon monoxide exposure go to

More than 250 students were evacuated and two restaurants were temporarily closed when high levels of carbon monoxide set of alarms at a Center Center building in Philadelphia early Monday morning, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The 17-story building, located at the corner of Broad and Chestnut Streets, houses a Capital Grille and an Olive Garden. Officials shut those eateries down when they measured carbon monoxide levels of as high as 3,800 parts per million in one of them, the Inquirer reported.

The historic building, 1346 Chestnut St., is also the residence for 552 students at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. They were sent to nearby hotels at the institute’s expense.

At concentrations of more than 150 to 200 parts per million, carbon monoxide causes disorientation, unconsciousness and even death, the Inquirer said, citing information from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Authorities Monday hadn’t determine the source of the carbon monoxide.

For a better understanding the full consequences of carbon monoxide exposure go to

New York’s law mandating the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in dwellings goes into effect Feb. 22.

The law requires that carbon monoxide alarms be installed in all new and existing one- and two-family homes, multi-family residences and rentals that have a fuel-burning appliance, system or attached garage, as reported this week by The Journal-Register of Medina, N.Y.

The paper recommends that to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, consumers should put in at least one carbon monoxide detector with an audible warning signal near sleeping areas and outside bedrooms. That alarm should have the approval of a nationally recognized lab, such as Underwriters Laboratories.

It is remarkable that laws mandating the installation of carbon monoxide detectors has lagged so far behind smoke detector requirements. Kudos to the NY State legislature. For more on the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning see:

Wisconsin hotels and apartment managers are scrambling to comply with a new state law that requires them to install carbon monoxide detectors.

The law goes into effect in several months, but hoteliers and others are still trying to interpret it and figure out how many detectors they need to install in order to be in compliance, according to a story posted online,, by WBAY-TV In Green Bay, Wis., Friday.

The law applies to apartment buildings, hotels and bed and breakfasts. Under the legislation, carbon monoxide detectors must be installed within 15 feet of a bedroom if there is a fuel-burning device, like a fireplace, in the building.

But hoteliers are unclear on that part of the law, and whether it mandates that detectors also have to be placed within 15 feet of the actual appliance.

According to the WBAY story, the Green Bay Fire Department will do the inspections to be sure hoteliers and apartment owners are in compliance with the new law.

Local fire officials pointed out that carbon monoxide poisoning is the No. 1 cause of accidental poisoning in the world, and that about 170 people die each year in the United States from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Dear Attorney Johnson:

I thought I’d share with you some of what happened yesterday when I spent Christmas with my dad, sister and nephew.

While driving to Kentucky, my dad was telling me that my nephew Jim was doing very well in the 6th grade making all A on his report card, but had missed 18 days of school. Jim’s doctor did some blood work and discovered that he had a carbon monoxide level of 3.1. He slept in a back room where the furnace was located. “So there was something wrong with the furnace?” My dad, who seems to be in eternal denial, responded, “Well, you know there are the fumes from the school buses. He did get sick when he went on a field trip.” I said, “If the cause of the problem were bus fumes, there would be a lot of kids having problems.” Then my dad says, “Well, there are a lot of other kids missing school as well.”

Fortunately, they did have Jim start sleeping in the front room. And my dad did replace the furnace even though he said that he had someone come out and check it and found “nothing wrong with it.” Jim’s carbon monoxide level did drop down to .6 once he started sleeping in the front room. He now has his own room that he sleeps in.

Well, that was my Christmas. We did have a pleasant time.


As we enter Hurricane Season 2009 and the emphasis shifts to disaster planning, including warnings about the dangers of generators, who would of thought we would be placing a warning on video gaming?

The dangers of using generators without proper ventilation is covered extensively throughout the hurricane season as massive power failures become more likely. Generators used without proper ventilation can kill in a matter of minutes. All generators produced after May 14, 2007 are required to carry just such a warning.

During Hurricane Ike, two million people were left without power resulting in 12 separate carbon monoxide poisoning incidents. We would logically assume that generators were powered up to provide emergency lighting, refrigeration and other necessities.

However, according to an article in the June issue of Pediatrics by Caroline Fife, M.D., of the University of Texas Science Center in Houston and her colleagues, five of these incidents were the result of powering up generators in order to play video games. 21 children and 17 adults were poisoned, and one 3-year-old died.

“This is the first study to suggest that generators are commonly used immediately after a large-scale power outage to power entertainment electronics for children,” they said.

It is recommended that generators be placed at least 50 feet from a house and should not be operated in the house or garage in any circumstances. This is a good time to weatherize your generator so it can be operated safely outdoors, install a catalytic converter and carbon monoxide monitors. If you are concerned about theft or noise, the CPSC is considering these problems and hopefully solutions will soon be in the works.

Please use common sense when operating a generator and put the safety and health of children first. The video games can wait.

It is very sobering to realize how many people are affected by carbon monoxide every year. These incidents always go up during natural disasters or power outages, like the one affecting so many right now.

As much as we hear about carbon monoxide in the news, we rarely hear how many pets die. Smaller and more vulnerable, they are more likely to be overcome by these invisible fumes. Nebraska leads the country in carbon monoxide deaths and I was saddened to read that firefighters in Omaha reported that 9 dogs had died just last week from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Pets are particularly vulnerable during cold weather when they may be confined to a garage and exposed to car fumes. Dogs and cats are much more sensitive to carbon monoxide fumes than humans and any exposure to exhaust fumes is serious and sometimes fatal. Carbon monoxide poisoning, even in very low doses, is cumulative and can lead to death.

The warning signs of carbon monoxide in your pets include: drowsiness, lethargy, weakness and/or incoordination, bright red color to skin and gums, dyspnea (trouble breathing), coma, abrupt death and occasionally chronic (low-grade, long-term) exposure may cause exercise intolerance, changes in gait (walking), and disturbances of normal reflexes. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning in your pet, remember, this is a warning sign that you and your family are at risk. Pets and small children are always the first affected.

If you care about your pets, install carbon monoxide detectors. They are an inexpensive way to protect you, your family and your pets. Don’t let your pet be the warning sign that you have carbon monoxide in your home.

– the legal times staff

January 6, 2009


DENVER — Investigators say a boiler vent damaged during a recent windstorm may have led to the high levels of carbon monoxide that left one college student dead.

Denver’s Chief Deputy Coroner Michelle Weiss-Samaras says 23-year-old Lauren Johnson died Monday after being taken from a third-floor unit at Josephine Place Apartments. Johnson and another woman were hospitalized.

University of Denver spokesman Jim Berscheidt says Johnson was a first-year graduate student at the school’s international-studies program. He says she was from Vancouver, Wash.

Authorities say a woman had called 911 shortly before 5 p.m. Monday saying she felt woozy.

Denver fire spokesman Lt. Phil Champagne says investigators found that carbon monoxide had leaked from a flue from the boiler. Champagne says whoever fixed the old flue vent cap did not attach it properly.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Date: 12/28/2008 7:52 AM

Associated Press Writer

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Dozens of Liberian immigrants mourned Saturday at a house where seven members of their community died in a fire that a survivor said started when a kerosene heater spilled fuel and exploded as it was being moved outdoors.

Authorities have not released the names of all the victims, but fire survivor Harris Murphy said those trapped in the basement blaze were part of the large Liberian enclave in southwest Philadelphia.

The blaze broke out around 10:45 p.m. Friday in a three-story brick duplex and killed three adults and four children, including a 1-year-old boy, fire department Executive Chief Daniel Williams said.

Fire officials said six victims were found huddled together in the front of the basement, one of them cradling the baby. The seventh was found near the basement door.

The boy was later pronounced dead at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The medical examiner said three of the children died of smoke inhalation and one adult died of smoke inhalation and burns. Four victims were identified as Henry W. Gbokoloi, 54, of Yeadon; 8-year-old Ramere Markese Wright-Dosso; 6-year-old Mariam Iyanya Dosso, and 1-year-old Zyhire Xzavier Wright-Teah. The three children all lived with their mother nearby.

Four people survived the fire, including Murphy, 35, who lives down the street but was watching a movie with others at the home when the flames erupted.

Fire marshals have not yet released the cause of the blaze, but Murphy said it started after a woman added fuel to a kerosene heater and, when it became too hot, tried to move it outside through the basement’s only door.

Some of the flaming liquid spilled out and set the carpet on fire, Murphy said.

The heater then “exploded,” he said.

Murphy said he ran into a basement bathroom with Gbokoloi and some children, got in the tub and turned on the shower to try to wait out the flames until firefighters arrived. After a few moments, he said, he decided to make a break for it because the smoke was thickening.

A preliminary investigation showed the basement had one exit to the exterior and that the interior basement stairs had been removed, the fire department said in a statement. The fire commissioner said no smoke detectors were in the house.

Some Liberians who came to the house Saturday morning did not know who died but, because of the home’s location, feared they would know one or more of the victims. The neighborhood is home to many of the city’s 15,000 Liberian immigrants.

Anthony Kesselly, president of the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas, lives nearby and said he knew Gbokoloi very well. He came to the house when he heard the news Saturday morning and was not surprised to see the growing crowd.

“We are very close-knit people,” Kesselly said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

Date: 12/25/2008 7:29 AM

BEIJING (AP) — Sixty-five elementary school students in northern China were poisoned by carbon monoxide after smoke from a dormitory boiler seeped into their rooms, state media reported Thursday.

Nineteen were still being treated in hospitals in Inner Mongolia, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Meng Lei, a regional health official, told Xinhua that none were in serious condition.

Calls to provincial and city authorities, including the health and education departments, were not answered Thursday.

The students at Niuchang Primary School in Hohhot, the regional capital, reported feeling dizzy after waking up on Wednesday, Xinhua said.

The poisoning was caused by smoke that leaked from a boiler in the students’ dormitory, Xinhua said.

Earlier this month, 11 girls died from carbon monoxide poisoning in their dorm room in Shaanxi province after blankets fell onto a charcoal heater they were using to keep warm.

Carbon monoxide detectors are not required in schools in China, though the Education Ministry last year suggested that schools that use coal heating should install them.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas. Moderate exposure can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and mental confusion. Prolonged exposure can lead to death.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.