Cause of carbon monoxide leak at child care center in city sought

Incident at Pleasant View Gardens prompts evacuation of 48

December 10, 2010|By Liz F. Kay, The Baltimore Sun

Officials from the Baltimore housing department and a private management company were investigating the cause of a carbon monoxide leak Friday that prompted the evacuation of 48 people — 36 children and 12 adults — at the Pleasant View Gardens Child Care Center.

Those affected were evaluated in a building across the street from the child care center in the 1100 block of E. Fayette St. in East Baltimore. Chief Kevin Cartwright, a Fire Department spokesman, said no one showed symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, but five people were taken to an area hospital for evaluation.

According to Cartwright, a carbon monoxide detector went off about 11 a.m. at the child care center, an administrator called 911 and the building was evacuated. Hazmat units initially registered carbon monoxide readings of 68 to 70 parts per million, and the building was being ventilated.

The center is a joint Head Start facility and child care center under the city housing authority, according to Reginald Scriber, a deputy housing commissioner. But the building is managed by a private company, which was responding to the problem, he said.

After the incident, an inspector from the city housing department could be seen on the roof of the one-story building. City child care facilities are required to have carbon monoxide detectors.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the colorless, odorless gas can cause sudden illness and death. It is found in combustion fumes, such as those made by heating systems, and can build up in places that do not have a good flow of fresh air. The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness and nausea.

The effects of carbon monoxide poisoning vary, depending upon the concentration of the gas and length of exposure, but people usually do not experience symptoms from extended exposures of 70 ppm or lower, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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