Bad chemistry in article on carbon monoxide This is to...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 14, 2000

Bad chemistry in article on carbon monoxide

This is to clarify the July 10 article "Ailments tied to low-level CO by researchers." The article states "A gas stove or oven exhausts carbon monoxide directly into the kitchen, even when it's working properly."

This is not true. If it were true, cooking a meal would qualify as a hazardous occupation and baking something like a turkey could be fatal.

The fact is that when a natural-gas-burning appliance is adjusted properly, the products occurring as a result of the combustion of the gas consist of carbon dioxide (not carbon monoxide), water vapor and nitrogen - all nontoxic to humans.

The problem occurs when these products are not vented to the atmosphere or otherwise diluted by outside air. Stoves and ovens are designed to be used for a relatively short duration of time.

If they are improperly used as heating appliances and, if the room is sealed tightly, the oxygen in the room can be depleted and the combustion products recirculated through the flame. This results in the production of carbon monoxide, a potentially lethal situation.

As an employee of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. for 38 years, I had occasion to investigate many such incidences.

It is important that the public be aware that the proper use of gas-burning appliances, including sufficient air for combustion and ventilation, as well as the adequate venting of combustion products to the outside in the case of furnaces and water heaters, is essential.

These are safe, reliable, and economical conveniences, but the homeowner must keep them in good working order.

If there are any questions of safety or if people in the house are having flu-like symptoms that persist, it is urgent that the residents call a heating contractor or BGE to have the appliances checked. In most cases, it doesn't cost much for the peace of mind it leaves the homeowner.

Mike Griffin

Bel Air

County administration failed employees at risk in building

Thank you for your editorial "A sap for a tenant" (July 7) on the Investment Building. As a former Baltimore County Department of Social Services employee in the Investment Building, I have firsthand knowledge and experience of the ineffectual leadership by the Ruppersberger administration that has led to the current situation.

Investment Building social workers have written and documented complaints to the county agencies' management about the water and air quality problems affecting the social workers as far back as April 1999. No written or verbal response was ever given by the county's department management to the social workers concerning their water or air quality complaints.

When the Legionnaire's disease outbreak occurred in the Investment Building in October 1999, county agency managers ignored workers' requests for bottled water and dismissed workers' health concerns as "mass hysteria."

When my own health became compromised in November, after air vents were cleaned in my office, I began researching the maintenance history of the Investment Building.

I discovered that both the county social services and health department workers had complained about health problems and about the air and water quality to government officials as far back as 1991.

The county administration's lack of diligence forced me to choose between losing my health or losing my job.

As a county taxpayer, I am outraged that the current county government and its administration conducts such slipshod practices in managing its public trust.

Marina D. Eddy

Towson

Kids who want to work need to get to summer jobs

The editorial about Reginald Brown's cleanup crew ("Keep it clean," July 10) highlights an aspect overlooked in the brouhaha about kids not working this summer.

There are many kids who are not fortunate enough to be able to spend the summer taking courses and beefing up their college resumes. Unfortunately, these kids are not located in the affluent suburbs. They are in urban areas, distant from summer jobs and lacking the transportation to get to available jobs.

If employers were serious about needing student workers and if people really believed that summer jobs were that important to all kids, then we would figure out a way to get the kids who need jobs to the places where the jobs are. And we would be willing to train non-middle-class kids in the niceties of being an employee.

It sounds like Mr. Brown and the city Department of Public Works understand the importance of putting kids into jobs where they are supervised by adults and not into jobs where the oldest person they come in contact with is only 20.

Barbara M. Simon

Baltimore

Mfume's TV diversity strictly monochromatic

Kweisi Mfume and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People plan to demand more "diversity" on TV ("Mfume widens call for diverse TV," July 8).

Will the NAACP also call for more white men to appear in shows on Black Entertainment Television (BET)?

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