Illinois lawmakers debate on mandatory carbon monoxide detectors

Internet Photo, courtesy of Enquirer Democrat

Internet Photo, courtesy of Enquirer Democrat

Nancy Chen, News Editor

After a carbon monoxide leak at North Mac Middle School in Girard, IL, on Sept. 15, Illinois legislature is considering a bill mandating schools to be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors.

According to The Daily Herald, the bill proposed by Senator Sam McCann will require all Illinois schools to have carbon monoxide detectors in buildings where students are present but it does not specify where the funding for the detectors will come from. Illinois Association of School Boards executive director Ben Schwarm states that the association believes schools should decide whether or not they need the detectors.

Chemistry teacher Karl Craddock explains that carbon monoxide is a life threatening substance and making it even more dangerous is the fact that humans can’t detect it naturally.

“Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas that you can’t smell,” Craddock said. “And you don’t know you’re breathing in until its almost too late. You get lightheaded and pass out.”

According to The Inquisitr News, students at North Mac Middle School filed into the nurse’s office at approximately 8:45 a.m. after the carbon monoxide gas leaked from a furnace. 150 students and staff members were sent to hospitals for nausea and other signs of sickness while the rest of the school was evacuated to nearby churches.

Senior Kristen Cardoza believes the incident could have been prevented.

“It’s really strange that we have fire alarms that can be set off by a little smoke but not alarms to check for poisonous gas,” Cardoza said. “They should have installed detectors in case something happens.”

Sophomore Andrew Hwang hopes the bill passes for the safety of the students.

“We need the detectors because the carbon monoxide affected the children’s health and it might happen again later in the future,” Hwang said. “We need to be prepared for these kinds of incidents.”

Fremd has handheld devices that check for carbon monoxide, but there are no detectors installed in the school.

Assistant principal Eric Dolen understands the cost of the detectors is a difficult topic to agree on.

“Anytime you get funding from the state, it is going to be money allocated from one direction to another,” Dolen said. “We want things, but who is going to pay for it. It’s a tough question to answer.”