Discussion Author: James G. Smirniotopoulos, M.D.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a tasteless odorless gas produced by combustion of hydrocarbons. Common sources include automobile, truck, and bus engines; fireplaces; charcoal grills; and generators.
Incidence: The CDC reports > 15,000 non-fire related CO exposure/poisoning cases each year resulting in 480 deaths. December and January are the peak months for these events.
- LINK -
CO poisoning in the home is very common after power failures - especially in cold climates - when generators are used indoors. Even a home generator in a garage can kill, when combustion fumes enter through a parially open door. Space heaters may also release CO into a room or tent.
Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, nausea, lethargy, confusion, shortness of breath, and coma.
Carbon monoxide is both cardiotoxic and neurotoxic. Lesions in the brain show a "selective vulnerability" for the medial lenticular nucleus (globus pallidus).
Treatment includes removal from the site/source of the exposure, oxygen, and hyperbaric therapy.
â€¢ CDC - - LINK - & - LINK -
â€¢ Detection of CO by Breathalyzer - - LINK -
â€¢ CO Poisoning detection in the ER - - LINK -
â€¢ Mass Poisoning by CO - - LINK -
â€¢ EPA - - LINK -
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