22 hospitalized from carbon monoxide poisoning at Tainan swimming pool

01/07/2021 09:56 PM
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Firefighters helping patrons at the YMCA. CNA photo Jan. 7, 2021
Firefighters helping patrons at the YMCA. CNA photo Jan. 7, 2021

Update: 10 released from hospital after carbon monoxide poisoning at Tainan pool

Taipei, Jan. 7 (CNA) Eight adults and 14 children were hospitalized on Thursday after suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning at a Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) swimming pool in Tainan, southern Taiwan.

The city's Fire Bureau sent officers and ambulances to the pool at about 5 p.m., after receiving reports that many patrons were feeling unwell, light headed or had vomited.

A carbon monoxide detector showed that the level of the toxic gas in the basement heated swimming pool was 499 parts per million (ppm), far higher than average indoor levels of 0.5 to 5 ppm.

A carbon monoxide detector shows that the level of the gas was 499 ppm. Photo courtesy of the Tainan City Government
A carbon monoxide detector shows that the level of the gas was 499 ppm. Photo courtesy of the Tainan City Government's Fire Bureau

The 22 people affected by the gas were taken to five different hospitals in Tainan, and are all in stable condition, according to the bureau.

The high level of carbon monoxide is believed to have been caused by incomplete combustion of fuel in a water heater at the pool, which occurred because a switch that allows airflow into the heater had not been turned on, a preliminary investigation by the bureau found.

However, two representatives of the YMCA offered slightly different versions of events. Hou Cheng-yen (侯成彥) told CNA that all students, parents and teachers were evacuated from the building when the incident occurred, but they remain unsure how it happened.

In contrast, Chen Chen-chieh (陳振傑) said the YMCA will fix its appliances to ensure no more leaks occur in the future.

Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲), who visited the scene, said he plans to require all businesses in the city to install carbon monoxide detectors at their premises.

Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che talks to a person affected at the YMCA. Photo courtesy of the Tainan City Government
Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che talks to a person affected at the YMCA. Photo courtesy of the Tainan City Government

Under Taiwan's Indoor Air Quality Act, the permissible level of carbon monoxide is an average of 9 ppm over an eight-hour period. Owners or managers who fail to maintain air quality standards will be ordered to make improvements within a certain time period and those who fail to do so can be fined NT$50,000 (US$1,744) to NT$250,000.

(By Chang Jung-hsiang, Yang Sz-ruei and Chiang Yi-ching)

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