Emergency responders were called to the Chicago Meat Authority Wednesday morning in an accident resulting in the hospitalization of seventeen people.
Those injured were taken to several area hospitals, some in serious condition, according to NBC 5. Several people in the South Side meat business complained of having a hard time breathing following a carbon monoxide leak caused by a malfunctioning fan in the building.
At 8:48 a.m., multiple ambulances were called to the scene in the 1100 block of West 47 Place and Chicago Fire Media tweeted there has been a total of seventeen transports to area hospitals and one refusal. Chicago Fire Department spokesperson Larry Merritt said eight of those injured are in good condition, five are in fair condition and four are in serious condition.
It is suspected that the leak in the fan allowed carbon monoxide to mix with water vapor, turning it into carbonic acid which can cause irritation and difficulties breathing. The leak caused employees to experience dizziness and chest pains before being taken to hospitals, according to CBS.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a growing concern as more than 400 Americans die from unintentional poisoning not related to fires, according to the Center for Disease Control. In addition, more than 20,000 Americans visit the emergency room as a result of symptoms linked to carbon monoxide poisoning and more than 4,000 are hospitalized.
In a factory setting such as this incident, it is hard to see what could have been done differently, but there are simple steps Chicagoans can take to prevent becoming a part of the rising statistic. The Center for Disease Control recommends installing and regularly changing the batter in a carbon monoxide detector, as well as having heating systems in the home serviced by a qualified technician.