11/15/2019 22:39 EST

26 Gatineau, Que. Kids Sent To Hospital After Reporting Strange Smell On Bus

They may have been exposed to carbon monoxide.

GATINEAU, Que. — Twenty-six elementary school children sent to hospital Friday after they were possibly exposed to carbon monoxide in a Gatineau school bus have been sent home with their parents, the regional health authority said.

The children had complained of head, chest and stomach aches following a school bus ride earlier in the day.

Marie-Eve Cloutier, head of medical care at the health authority, said the children were showing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, but doctors could not confirm exactly what had made the students feel ill.

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She said 18 children were brought to the Gatineau hospital and eight were sent to the Hull hospital. “All of the children were evaluated and treated, many of them ate snacks, and by the early afternoon they were able to leave safely,” she said.

“It was a possible carbon monoxide poisoning, but we can’t confirm that for the moment,” Cloutier told reporters.

Maude Hebert with the Portages-de-l’Outaouais school board said the company that runs the bus service for the school had ruled out carbon monoxide as the cause.

She said in an interview the children reported an unusual smell from the bus when they arrived to school. Carbon monoxide is known to be odourless. Hebert said the company was investigating whether a problem with the exhaust gas cooler on the bus emitted the foul odour.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 15, 2019.

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