Carbon monoxide poisoning at École des Découvreurs on January 14, 2019
Overview of the event
On Monday morning, January 14, 2019, students and staff at École des Découvreurs (Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys) were victims of carbon monoxide poisoning. A leak in a faulty natural-gas fuelled heating system was the cause of the problem. Teams from emergency services and from the health and social services network responded to this incident.
The effects of carbon monoxide (CO) can appear immediately or over a few weeks. Symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and loss of consciousness may develop as a result of poisoning. This was the case for a number of students and teachers: 43 people were taken to hospital by ambulance. Symptoms can last over a period of time, or appear a few days or weeks after CO poisoning. For this reason, medical follow-up was carried out at the school on February 19, 27 and 28. The goal was to provide post-exposure follow-up and medical management to children who still had symptoms linked to their exposure on January 14.
Report of the DRSP
The health and social services network acted rapidly to provide the best possible follow-up for students and staff who were poisoned. Today public health is releasing its report, which contains a summary of actions taken in collaboration with Sainte-Justine hospital, Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de service sociaux (CIUSSS) de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal and Institut national de santé publique (INSPQ). Data related to this event are also included.
The current report only covers the students. Staff members will be the subject of a subsequent report.
Follow-up on students’ health
Most of the 265 students potentially exposed to carbon monoxide on January 14 are in good health; however, on the day of the health evaluation, 24 children (9.1 %) still had symptoms associated with carbon monoxide exposure. This figure corresponds to the numbers reported in the scientific literature: 3% to 17%
To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, the public health department recommends that fuel-burning equipment be inspected once a year by a qualified professional. In addition, carbon monoxide detectors should be installed near potential CO sources inside buildings.
Ask us your questions
If you have any questions about this report or carbon monoxide in general, e-mail them to us by Friday, June 21 at 4 p.m., or post them on our Facebook page. An expert at the public health department will then develop a FAQ page that will be posted on our Website.
- Bilan de l’intoxication au monoxyde de carbone à l’école primaire des Découvreurs le 14 janvier 2019, DRSP (in french)
- What is carbon monoxide (CO)? A video posted after the incident provides answers to questions about CO and the poisoning incident at École des Découvreurs.
- Advice and prevention - Carbon monoxide
- Direction régionale de santé publique de Montréal
- Photo : Maxime Roy, Direction régionale de santé publique de Montréal