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  • Nikki James Zellner

Unprotected: A Case Study of Carbon Monoxide in U.S. Schools and Daycares


In February 2020, my two children, ages 4 and 3, were poisoned by carbon monoxide at their Virginia preschool. Five adults and one child were taken to local hospitals for their injuries. We were lucky, as it could have been lethal.


Carbon monoxide is unlike any other public health hazard out there. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas. The danger is real, common and should be treated as such in schools and daycares.


Even though the technology is available for detection that can prevent injury to our children, teachers, staff and community members, more often than not our schools aren't using it.


Immediately following our own Carbon Monoxide poisoning incident, I began to go down the rabbit hole – just how often is this happening?


And as I learned more about the realities (and frequencies) of CO in schools, I wanted to know more about the Why.


Why aren't we aware of the danger?


Why isn't there a common language?


Why isn't someone protecting our children?


Unprotected: A Case Study of Carbon Monoxide in U.S. Schools and Daycares is compiled from 200 publicly documented instances of carbon monoxide exposures and poisonings in U.S. schools and daycares from 2004 - 2021, using press coverage, government testimony and FOIA requested incident reports (in Virginia specifically) as sources.


It is written and researched by me, in order to provide "required data" to code councils, life safety organizations who won't pull the trigger on making a change until there's data to support it. So here you go.


You can download Unprotected: A Case Study of Carbon Monoxide in U.S. Schools and Daycares below.

Unprotected A Case Study_© Zellner 2021_
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Download • 11.00MB



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