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43 students, 10 adults suffer carbon monoxide poisoning at Atlanta elementary school

At an elementary school in Atlanta, fire crews found dangerous levels of carbon monoxide thought to have originated from the school's boiler. NBC's  Gabe Gutierrez reports. 

Updated at 10:17 p.m. ET: Forty-three students and six staffers at an Atlanta elementary school were rushed to the hospital early Monday after exposure to carbon monoxide fumes, fire officials told NBC News.

The students and staffers from Finch Elementary in southwest Atlanta exhibited mild and moderate symptoms related to carbon monoxide poisoning. Four more adults arrived at Grady Hospital by school bus, hospital spokeswoman Denise Simpson said.

The school was evacuated as a precaution, NBC affiliate WXIA reported.

The incident was first reported at about 8:35 a.m. ET, according to WXIA. No one was found unconscious at the scene, but the carbon monoxide reading was 1,700 parts per million, which an Atlanta Fire Rescue Department official said was high.


"Once we got inside, we started finding carbon monoxide readings way, way higher than we've ever experienced before, especially around the heating units and hallways, and the entire building turned out to be saturated," Atlanta fire Battalion Chief Todd Edwards told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Edwards also told the Journal-Constitution the school apparently doesn't have carbon monoxide detectors. However, state law does not require schools to have CO detectors, a spokesman for Georgia’s Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner told the newspaper.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.

Erik S. Lesser / EPA

Students are evacuated from Finch Elementary School by members of the Atlanta Fire Department in Atlanta, Dec. 3, 2012. Almost 50 people were reportedly taken to the hospital for treatment following a carbon monoxide leak.

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