Carbon monoxide leak sickens 42 midshipmen on Long Island

A weekend leak of carbon monoxide sent 42 students at the Merchant Marine Academy on Long Island to hospitals for treatment -- an incident noteworthy for the number of people involved, not the actual leak. Carbon monoxide leaks cause about 20,000 visits to hospital emergency rooms each year.

According to Emily Ng, a spokeswoman for North Shore University Hospital, eight of the 42 students were brought to her hospital about 11 p.m. Sunday and released about four hours later. The other students went to other area hospitals, though three students refused any hospital treatment, she said in a telephone interview.

The academy, located in Kings Point, about 20 miles from New York City, trains officers for the nation’s merchant marine fleet. It has about 1,000 students, called midshipmen, but about 200 are at sea at any time for training.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can leak from appliances such as water heaters. It was such a leak Sunday night that sickened the students.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 20,000 emergency room visits each year are caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. About 4,000 people are hospitalized and 400 die, the agency said.

The most frequent symptoms are headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to a variety of other conditions, the CDC said, but proper venting and servicing of appliances can prevent leaks.

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-- Michael Muskal

 
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Rene Lynch has been an editor and writer in Metro, Sports, Business, Calendar and Food. @ReneLynch

As an editor and reporter, Michael Muskal has covered local, national, economic and foreign issues at three newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. @latimesmuskal


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