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  • Writer's pictureNikki James Zellner

A letter to Virginia Senators

Distinguished Senator,

I'm again writing to you in support of HB1823 that would make Virginia the 7th state in the US to require some form of carbon monoxide protection in schools or daycares.

What started as an event that impacted my individual family (and about 90+ others) at our daycare in Virginia Beach, took me down the rabbit hole of: well, is this event a one-off? The clear and definitive answer: NO, IT'S NOT A ONE-OFF. Carbon monoxide poisoning in schools does not show bias to US geographic location, nor to the time of year. CO exposure affects remote schools, city schools, private schools, public schools, and every age group in them.

It affects Republican and Democratic strongholds. And this list of 90 carbon monoxide poisoning events at schools will show you that (downloadable PDF at bottom). It will also show you, when it was discoverable: • the types of schools impacted • the quantity of people impacted • the number of students/staff/workers sent to hospitals • the number of lawsuits filed • the cause of the CO issue

But the most telling things:

1. You don't need gas systems in your schools to be impacted. Many incidents were related to idling vehicles, floor polishers, even insects and animals blocking vents. 2. CO Detection Alarms prompted evacuations early enough to avoid long term issues or disastrous consequences – when they were installed and working properly.

This list of 90 key incidents across the U.S. is not comprehensive. This is what I can find public documentation of, online, in my spare time of doing this work. I know there are many more that weren't covered by the press, or weren't reported at all, as they didn't know CO was the culprit. A portion of this list was compiled by Safe Kids Worldwide showing key school incidents that occurred from 2005 to 2012. The other half of this list are key incidents that occurred for 2013 and later, compiled by me.

And finally,

I don't think one single, plug-in detector (as addressed in HB1823) is the FINAL answer to this problem.

But I do think it's THE FIRST answer to this problem: requiring ALL schools to have at least some form of immediate, inexpensive protection – so that we can spend more time in discovery and with focus on, each individual district's or school's long term needs as it relates to Carbon Monoxide Poisoning prevention.

CO Incidences in Schools_Updated Februar
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