APS taking measures to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

Posted at: 12/05/2012 9:28 PM
Updated at: 12/05/2012 10:22 PM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4

After dozens of students and staff at a school in Atlanta were rushed to the hospital Monday for carbon monoxide poisoning, KOB Eyewitness News 4 looked into what measures Albuquerque Public Schools take to ensure a similar emergency does not happen here.

Technician Leonard Montano checks the steam boilers and furnaces at all 142 school campuses in the Albuquerque district, every week.

Wednesday, KOB was with Montano has he tested the machines at Inez Elementary School.

"We're running about 87%, which is wonderful," Montano said.

The device Montano uses reads carbon monoxide levels emitted, that ultimately filter into classrooms.

"I feel parents should feel totally safe in their environments that they have in the classroom," John Dufay, maintenance and operations executive director for APS, said.

But with no detectors on classroom or hallway walls inside schools, Dufay said the tool is what APS solely relies on when it comes to catch a potential problem.

"We feel that if you prevent any carbon monoxide from happening from outside the fire box, then you're never going to have a carbon monoxide problem," Dufay said.  "As we have our program and they're checking it, when they detect something they do the repairs right away so we don't have failing equipment."

Currently, only two states, Maryland and Connecticut, require schools have carbon monoxide detectors.

Monday, over 50 students and staff at a school in Atlanta were hospitalized for dangerous levels of the poisonous gas, linked to a faulty furnace.

Dr. John Iacuone with Lovelace Health Plan said carbon monoxide exposure is more common in the winter months, when the heat is turned up and windows are closed.

"There are probably over 40 to 80,000 visits to ERs a year that turn out to be related to carbon monoxide poisoning," Iacuone said.  "It's called the silent killer."

Symptoms may easily go unnoticed by a kid. "Just a headache, a little bit of nausea, kinda dizzy, woozy kinda feeling," Iacuone said.

New APS schools are being outfitted with devices that dual as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in one.  But in order for that to become mandatory across the board, Dufay said, there are still too many unanswered questions.

"It'll happen eventually," Dufay said.  "I think right now it's still the design of it and trying to figure out how it'd work is still not very well developed."

There have never been any reported cases of carbon monoxide poisoning at an APS school, Dufay added.