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Carbon Monoxide Scare During Sewer Installation

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During trench blasting for a new sewer line in Manchester, NH harmful levels of carbon monoxide (CO) gas were produced which migrated into adjacent homes. Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas that can cause illness and death by asphyxiation. Carbon monoxide can be produced during blasting operations due to the incomplete oxidation of carbon during the combustion process. Due to harmful gas levels several houses were evacuated and residents had to go to hospitals for CO poison testing. Some residents were forced out of their homes for two days until the CO levels diminished to safe levels.

Various departments within the City of Manchester worked together over a three-day period under emergency conditions to address this potentially deadly situation. This paper will review how carbon monoxide gas is formed during pipe trench blasting operations and appropriate mitigation measures to address this toxic gas.

Keywords: Carbon Monoxide; blasting; trench gas

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2009

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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