One person was taken to a hospital after being exposed to elevated levels of carbon monoxide at Friendship Elementary School on Tuesday.
Roughly 40 students also showed signs of effects of carbon monoxide poisoning toward the end of the school day, and one student was picked up from school by a parent as school was letting out at 3:30 p.m., said Wayne McCullough, chief financial and operations officer with Southern York County School District.
The elevated level of the toxic gas has been blamed on a malfunctioning hot water heater, said Glen Rock Fire Chief Gene Anstine.
The staff member showed symptoms of being exposed to carbon monoxide while in an old boiler room where the water heater is kept, but higher-than-normal levels of the gas were also found throughout the school, he said.
"There was elevated levels of (carbon monoxide) throughout the building, Anstine said.
The staff member is "doing OK," and classes at Friendship will be in session on Wednesday, McCullough said.
Illness: The 40 students and a number of staff members went to the school nurse complaining of symptoms, McCullough said.
The level of carbon monoxide found in the school was not high enough to cause death, and only headaches and nausea were reported, Anstine said.
"It was enough to make you sick," he said.
Carbon monoxide, an odorless gas that can't be smelled, seen or tasted, can also cause dizziness vomiting and even death.
School officials at first thought the carbon monoxide was caused by a diesel tractor digging a trench in order to install a floor drain in old boiler room, and work was stopped immediately, according to an email sent out to parents of children at the school.
Emergency personnel were dispatched to the school about 4:50 p.m. after the staff member became ill, Anstine said.
Precaution: Firefighters and an independent environmental consultant were able to trace the gas to its source and a contractor corrected the faulty water heater, the chief said.
By airing out the school and fixing the water heater, officials were able to clear the building of carbon monoxide.
As a precaution, the independent environmental consultant will be at the school Wednesday conducting real-time testing, and carbon monoxide detectors will be installed at the school, a second email to parents states.
- Reach Greg Gross at email@example.com.