WATERLOO — An alarm alerted residents of a Waterloo apartment building to carbon monoxide danger Thursday morning.
No injuries were reported, and firefighters and MidAmerican crews searched the building at 2745 St. Francis Drive until finding a problem with a furnace in one of the apartments.
“The pilot light itself was producing close to 40 parts per million, which spread throughout the apartment complex. When they fired it up, it went up to over 300 parts per million,” said Battalion Chief Michael Moore with Waterloo Fire Rescue.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s exposure limit is 50 parts per million over an eight-hour period, Moore said.
The average level in homes without gas stoves is between .5 and 5 parts per million. Homes with properly adjusted gas stoves are around 5 to 15, according to the according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The alarm in a third-floor apartment at the 12-plex sounded at around 5:30 a.m. Thursday, and firefighters recorded a reading above 40 parts per million when they arrived. Heightened levels were found in other areas of the building.
Some of the residents reported headaches, which is one of the symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure. Moore said the building wasn’t evacuated, and the problem was fixed. Moore said carbon monoxide is a common problem in the fall and winter months when residents begin turning on furnaces, although it can be an occasional issue in the spring if birds build nests in exhaust vents and flues.
Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include fatigue and flu-like symptoms, blurred vision, headaches, nausea and dizziness, according to the EPA.