CO detectorSPRINGFIELD – A new law aims to protect students and staff in Illinois public schools from the dangers of carbon monoxide leaks.

More than a year ago, a faulty exhaust pipe at North Mac Intermediate School in Girard sent 150 students and staff to the hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning. Since last September, the school has installed carbon monoxide detectors, but at the time there were none.

Legislation requiring schools to install carbon monoxide detectors was signed into law this summer and it goes into effect Jan. 1. State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) sponsored the proposal.

“What happened in Girard could happen at any school. If it weren’t for smart, quick actions from staff, that incident could have been a tragedy. Schools have a solemn obligation to protect their students and we need to ensure their safety by preventing anything like this happening again,” Manar said.

In a similar incident this month, 104 teachers and students were hospitalized after a carbon monoxide leak at Horace Mann Elementary School in Chicago. The school had detectors which allowed staff to evacuate the school before any students were injured, and all the hospitalizations were precautionary.

Chicago Public Schools had just finished installing detectors after a similar incident in October last year at Harper High School in Chicago.

The law will require schools to install detectors within 20 feet of equipment that produces carbon monoxide. School buildings without carbon monoxide sources would be exempt.

The legislation, House Bill 152 was negotiated with the Illinois Association of School Boards and the Illinois School Management Alliance, which represent the interests of school administrators in Springfield.

California, Connecticut and Maryland have similar requirements for carbon monoxide detectors in school buildings.

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