A model environmental policy for schools published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends that schools install carbon monoxide detectors near combustion sources, such as boilers, stoves and water heaters. It also advises that ventilation systems receive regular maintenance.
"Improperly managed ventilation and filtration systems can contribute to airborne mold, infectious diseases, and carbon monoxide poisoning," the report said.
Commercially available carbon monoxide alarms designed for homes range in cost from around $13 to more than $100. Alford said Atlanta school officials have recently discussed models that cost around $15.
Facility managers in school sometimes must make financial decisions on which safety upgrades they can afford, especially when those fixes are not required by law. Still, Farquhar said the alarms are relatively cheap for the protection they provide.
"It's not asbestos where you need to go in and rip everything out and close the school for months on end," he said. "You just put the detector in and it's pretty cheap and cost-effective."