LOS ANGELES (HPD) — Four workers fell ill, one seriously, from the release of carbon dioxide early Monday morning in a utility room at Los Angeles International Airport, authorities said.
A man in his 50s was initially reported in serious condition but became critical upon arrival at a hospital, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said in a statement. Two men and one woman were treated at the scene for minor complaints.
The gas release was initially reported in the Terminal 8 baggage area, but was later determined to be in a utility room about 200 feet (61 meters) away, Humphrey said.
No travelers were directly affected by the incident, but airport authorities moved about 100 people to neighboring Terminal 7. The terminal serves United Airlines and United Express.
The incident occurred around 7 a.m. in a room containing electrical equipment that has a fire suppression system that releases carbon dioxide, Fire Department spokesman Capt. Erik Scott told a news conference.
All four victims were independent contractors working in the room when they heard a bang, followed by a deluge of carbon dioxide, Scott added.
“Obviously that displaces all the oxygen inside and three people came out quickly, two adult males and one female,” Scott said.
But the man in his 50s was still inside.
“Carbon dioxide displaces oxygen in the individual’s bloodstream and causes cardiac arrest,” Scott said.
City and airport police began CPR, said Lt. Karla Rodriguez of the Airport Police Department. Paramedics then arrived and provided advanced life support, and according to Scott, the man was breathing.
Firefighters used blowers to blow the colorless, odorless gas out of the building, and hazardous materials experts detected only small amounts, Scott said.