Fayette County News

Fayette County


Booth Middle says carbon monoxide problem fixed

School system officials say they have resolved a carbon monoxide issue at J.C. Booth Middle School that left parents irate and concerned for the safety of their children.
In two letters to Booth parents, Principal Steve Greene laid out what occurred. On Monday, the boiler at the school malfunctioned, causing carbon monoxide to be drawn from the boiler into the air handling unit, dispersing it into the building. In the afternoon 18 students went to the school clinic complaining of headaches, prompting the principal to call the maintenance department for the board of education for assistance. The carbon monoxide level in the boiler room was at 28 parts per million (ppm), with levels in areas near the boiler at 18 ppm and 3 to 4 ppm through the rest of the school. An HVAC technician was sent to the school to exhaust the system, fixing it in about 15 minutes and returning air levels to normal, with a carbon monoxide reading of 0 ppm. Principal Greene was not notified until Tuesday morning that CO had leaked.
Air quality was checked twice Tuesday by the Peachtree City Fire Department with a reading of zero, according to Chief Joe O’Conor.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, and dizziness. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the effects depend on the level of concentration and the length of exposure. Most people will not show any symptoms from short exposure to 1 to 70 ppm, but symptoms become more noticeable with prolonged exposure.
The story was picked up by multiple news outlets. Channel 2 visited to the school, interviewing two parents whose children were affected and one student. They were upset that, among other issues, the school remained opened despite knowing there was an active CO leak, and they were not notified until the next day. Multiple parents had to take their children to the emergency room as they battled with headaches and other symptoms.
All Fayette schools did not previously have carbon monoxide detectors installed. In an email sent out Thursday morning, Principal Greene updated that two CO detectors had been installed at Booth near the source of the problem.
Melinda Berry-Dreisbach, Public Relations Specialist for the school system, confirmed that there had been no carbon monoxide detectors in any of the system’s schools. CO detectors are not currently required by state law. The school system will be addressing that, along with procedures and protocols related to potential evacuations in the event of future leaks.

By Christopher Dunn

Managing Editor Christopher Dunn has been with the Fayette County News since 2011, in addition to running Fayette Victory magazine. He is a graduate of Fayette County schools, as well as a graduate of Georgia State University with a degree in journalism. Follow him on twitter @fayettesports.