Bill Proposed to Require Carbon Monoxide Detectors in NJ Schools

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By: Irvin Jackson | Published: January 23rd, 2013

A group of New Jersey lawmakers are trying to pass new legislation to require the use of carbon monoxide detectors in schools; a step that only two other states have taken to reduce the risk of children suffering brain damage from exposure to carbon monoxide leaks that may occur during the school day. 

Several Assembly Democrats are preparing to introduce a bill that establishes the requirement following a number of recent incidences involving carbon monoxide poisoning, including at least two schools that were evacuated in recent weeks, causing dozens of students and adults to receive hospital treatment for carbon monoxide exposure. The bill is currently in the drafting stage.

A carbon monoxide leak at a school in Tennessee earlier this month sent more than 100 people to the hospital, and a similar incident at an Atlanta elementary school caused about 50 people to receive treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning in December. In both cases, the schools lacked functioning carbon monoxide detectors and the leaks were only discovered after children got sick and caretakers became suspicious of the cause.

Neither school district required that the schools have carbon monoxide detectors. In fact, only Maryland and Connecticut currently require carbon monoxide detectors in schools. The group of New Jersey lawmakers seek to make their state the third state to have such a requirement.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms Protect Against “Hidden” Gas Leaks

Carbon monoxide is a significantly toxic gas that is colorless, odorless, tasteless and lacks any sort of irritating factor that could allow someone to detect its presence. Because people often fail to promptly recognize symptoms of carbon monoxide, they are the leading cause of fatal poisonings in the United States.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, carbon monoxide poisoning kills about 500 people in the U.S. annually, and is linked to about 15,000 emergency room visits. In many cases, the injuries or deaths could have been prevented by the use of carbon monoxide detectors and proper maintenance of heating systems and generators, which could result in the availability of financial benefits for victims through a carbon monoxide lawsuit.

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