Nine employees at a Winners store in Barrhaven fell ill from carbon monoxide poisoning believed to be caused by faulty equipment used to polish the store's floors.

The workers started feeling sick at about 11:30 a.m. Monday, shortly after arriving at the store, near Strandherd Drive and Greenbank Road.

Paramedics say two people were sent to hospital to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning; seven others were treated at the scene with oxygen.

"There was a lot people feeling great, then started having similar symptoms – that was the big tip off," said JP Trottier, spokesperson for Ottawa paramedics.

Carbon monoxide is an odourless, colourless gas that can potentially be fatal.

It is unknown how long the employees were exposed to the gas. However, their symptoms included dizziness, headaches and nausea. Their injuries are considered minor.

Floor polisher likely the cause

Ottawa Fire Services believe the source of the carbon monoxide was likely a floor polisher operated by propane.

Spokesperson Marc Messier told CTV Ottawa the floor polisher, which was operated by a contractor, was the only possible source of carbon monoxide in the building.

He said members of the HAZMAT team responded to the scene to properly assess the situation.

The carbon monoxide in the building was measured at 42 parts per million when firefighters arrived, said Messier.

He noted the measurement was taken about three hours after the carbon monoxide is believed to have spread and levels could have been higher earlier in the day.

Winners did not comment on the situation. The store reopened for business at about 2:30 p.m. Monday.

Carbon Monoxide Concentrations
CO concentration in parts per million (ppm)Effects
0-2Normal conditions in and outside Canadian houses.
11 Maximum tolerable indoor concentration over an eight-hour period.1
25Maximum allowable concentration for continuous exposure for healthy adults in any eight-hour period.1
30CO detectors must not sound alarm within 30 days.2
70CO detectors must sound alarm within one to four hours.2
150CO detectors must sound alarm within 10 to 50 minutes.2
200Slight headache, fatigue, dizziness and nausea after two to three hours. CO detector alarm must sound within 35 minutes.3
400CO detectors must sound alarm within four to 15 minutes.2
800Dizziness, nausea and convulsions within 45 minutes, death within two to three hours.3
1600Death within one hour.3
13,000Danger of death after one to three minutes.3

1 Exposure Guidelines for Residential Indoor Air Quality, Health Canada, 1989.

2 From CAN/CSA 6.19, Residential Carbon Monoxide Alarming Devices, 2001

3 Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, Iowa State University of Science and Technology, AEN-172

Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation – About Your House – General Series

With files from CTV Ottawa's Alyshah Hasham