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Finch Elementary classes held at Kennedy Middle School after carbon monoxide leak


A carbon monoxide leak that poisoned dozens of students at Finch Elementary School in southwest Atlanta forced district officials to move classes to Kennedy Middle School on Tuesday.

Finch Elementary was evacuated Monday morning due to the apparent leak from a boiler in the building.

Firefighters who responded to the school found students and staff members overcome by fumes. They were located in classrooms closest to the boiler in question.

In all, 43 children were taken to Children's at Hughes Spalding in downtown Atlanta and six adults were taken to Atlanta Medical Center. Four more children were taken to Hughes Spalding by their parents. Fire officials said that none of the victims had life-threatening injuries.

Around 500 children and teachers who were not taken to the hospital were bused to Brown Middle School.

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis said parents were notified of the evacuation by robocalls, social media and the school's website.

Atlanta Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Todd Edwards told CBS Atlanta News that there were no carbon monoxide detectors installed in the school.

Edwards said that air quality samples were taken in the school and near the furnace and the reading was the highest sample that fire officials had ever seen at 1,700 parts per million.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, anything above 150-200 parts per million can cause death.

"The readings are at that level that it would only take three seconds of exposure for someone to pass out," Edwards said. "They are extremely dangerous readings."

During a news conference Monday afternoon, Davis said the boiler in question passed an inspection in 2011 and was not due for another inspection until 2013.

Davis also said that the district would work to put carbon monoxide detectors in all schools.

"You learn from all experiences," Davis said.

Alvah Hardy, Executive Director for Facility Services at Atlanta Public Schools, told CBS Atlanta News that he was not making any guesses about what caused the leak.

That's why we are running the tests to determine what happened to see if there are any relationships to our other boilers running in the district," Hardy said. "We are more concerned about why this particular one failed. I don't know what it is I am chasing until I know what it is that caused the event."

Meanwhile, top state leaders, including Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, called for change in laws following carbon monoxide poisoning.

"I plan to ask the legislators in our legislative package this year to create a study committee between the House and Senate, to really look at this and see if we really need to require this in public buildings such as schools and nursing homes," Hudgens said. "What my recommendation would be is to put a carbon monoxide detector near the point of combustion. My job as commissioner is to protect the citizens in the state of Georgia."

As of Tuesday morning, it was still unknown what caused the leak. It was also unknown when students would be able to return to classes at Finch Elementary.

Stay with for updates.

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