Rash of carbon monoxide poisoning sickens Twin Cities residents

  • Article by: MARY LYNN SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 14, 2012 - 8:22 AM

No deaths. Incidents prompt reminder of gas' hazards.

At least four people in the Twin Cities were sent to hospitals during the past two days because of dangerous carbon monoxide levels in their homes.

That surge in incidents prompted CenterPoint Energy to remind consumers about the hazards of carbon monoxide poisoning.

One person was taken to the hospital on Monday after Minneapolis firefighters evacuated and ventilated a seven-unit apartment building where the boiler was producing dangerous levels of the toxic fumes.

An Eden Prairie resident also was taken to the hospital after carbon monoxide leaked into a townhouse from a nearby garage. A neighbor said she had left her car running in the garage for an extended time before leaving for work on Monday.

In separate incidents Sunday, two people went to the hospital after dangerous levels of carbon monoxide built up because of furnace problems.

Exposure to carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas, can make people ill, and in some cases cause death. Exposure to the gas can cause flu-like symptoms. Headaches, nausea, fatigue, confusion and dizziness disappear when a person breathes fresh air, CenterPoint Energy officials said.

Signs that carbon monoxide may be present include stuffy or stale indoor air, unusually high indoor humidity with persistent heavy condensation on walls and windows, and soot or water collecting near a burner or vent.

If carbon monoxide is suspected, CenterPoint officials say people should leave the area immediately and then call 911. Severe exposure requires medical attention.

Utility officials say carbon monoxide alarms, which are required by law, should be checked because they have an expiration date. Any level above 10 parts per million should be checked. A level of 30 parts per million or more is dangerous to humans and pets.

Mary Lynn Smith • 612-673-4788

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