More than 40 people have been transported to hospital after carbon monoxide exposure at a greenhouse farm in Delta.
The incident took place at Windset Farms on 41 B St., where a number of people became ill while pressure washing inside a nursery, according to reports. Police believe poor ventilation may have caused a carbon monoxide build-up. When inhaled, carbon monoxide can interfere with the blood’s ability to absorb and transport oxygen.
According to B.C. Emergency Health Services, the incident required a major response, as 13 ambulances were called to the scene to provide care to the 42 people affected by the incident.
Delta police said the investigation has been handed over to Worksafe BC, and the organization confirmed that they have an officer onsite.
“Worksafe BC is working with the employer and the first responders to determine what’s occurred,” said spokesperson Trish Chernecki.
Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas that’s produced whenever fuel is burned. It can cause health problems — and eventually death — because breathing it reduces the body’s ability to carry oxygen in the blood.
BC Emergency Health Services tweeted that 13 ambulances responded to “a major incident” with 10 in serious to critical condition and 32 others in stable condition.
Linda Lupini, the services’ executive vice president, said on Sunday that response to the incident was swift and followed protocols for mass casualty events with those most seriously injured receiving priority care.
Those exposed to carbon monoxide were treated with oxygen and given blood tests to ensure they were recovering, she said. No additional crew or other staff were affected by carbon monoxide.
“The entire event as we know could have had a very different ending,” she said. “There’s no doubt this was an incredibly well executed response.”
She said everyone who was taken to hospital has been released. She added that a few people who were more seriously affected may need follow up treatment such as being placed in a hyperbaric chamber to replenish their oxygen levels.
Delta fire battalion chief Neil Shuster said an emergency call came in Saturday afternoon that at least 12 people at Windset Farms were suffering from inhalation of a suspected cleaning product.
Three fire crews and a hazmat crew were dispatched along with police and BC Ambulance Services. Shuster said crews determined there were high levels of carbon monoxide in the building.
Approximately 43 people required treatment on site.
The workers had been inside a greenhouse while a gas-powered pressure washer was running without adequate ventilation, he said.
Carbon monoxide can be highly toxic when inhaled because it displaces oxygen in the blood, and robs the heart and brain of oxygen.
Exposure to the colourless, odourless, and tasteless gas can cause symptoms including headache, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen quickly and cause loss of consciousness and suffocation.