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The COVID-19 pandemic has created a host of indoor air quality (IAQ) challenges that maintenance and engineering managers hadn’t had to address before, but amid the new issues, an old IAQ threat continues.
Carbon monoxide has long posed a potentially fatal health hazard in facilities, and as managers and facilities recover and reopen from the pandemic, a string of recent incidents offers a grim reminder that the threat remains very real.
In Ohio in January, 13 people, including a 2-year-old girl, were hospitalized after breathing life-threatening levels of carbon monoxide in a Maryville Hampton Inn pool area.
In Kentucky in February, two people died of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning at a Quality Inn Suites in Louisville.
In New Jersey in March, a carbon monoxide scare forced the evacuation of Hunterdon County ShopRite grocery store.
Also in March in Milwaukee, 17 UW-Milwaukee students were taken to area hospitals for evaluation or treatment for carbon monoxide exposure in their dormitory, and hundreds of students were forced to evacuate the facility overnight.
The incidents come as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced in February that it intends to recommend new mandatory rules to make one source of carbon monoxide — portable generators — safer, saying manufacturers have not voluntarily done enough to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning deaths caused by their products.
Dan Hounsell is senior editor, facility group.