carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the leading causes of unintentional poisoning deaths in the United States. Its odorless, colorless nature makes it undetectable until a person is already experiencing symptoms, is injured, or dead. Carbon monoxide poisoning is responsible for 15,000 emergency department visits and nearly 500 deaths annually in the United States. This is not telling of the number of poisonings that go untreated every year. Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea, chest pain, and dizziness.

Carbon monoxide injuries may be preventable with the installation of a proper alarm system. Many more households carry these alarms today compared to a decade ago because of education on the subject as well as stricter building codes.

Where is Carbon Monoxide poisoning being treated?

According to the National Poison Data System (NPDS)*, 68,316 carbon monoxide exposures were reported to poison centers between 2000 and 2009, which represented 0.29 percent of all poison exposures reported in NPDS.

Forty-five percent of these calls (30,798) were managed at the site of exposure (most commonly at home (77 percent)) with instructions from the poison center by telephone; fifty-three percent (36,691) were treated at a health-care facility; and the treatment area for the remaining cases is unknown.

Who experiences the most Carbon Monoxide Injuries?

According to the NPDS, the groups most affected by carbon monoxide injuries are females (23 per million), children under the age of 17 years (25.7 per million), and adults aged 18 to 44 years (19.4 per million).

Between 1999–2010, carbon monoxide poisonings took a total of 5,149 lives in the United States; an average of 430 deaths per year.

  • The average annual death rate from carbon monoxide poisoning for males was 0.22 per 100,000 population, which was more than three times higher than that for females (0.07 per 100,000).
  • The death rates were highest among people aged 65 and older with males at a rate of 0.42 per 100,000 and females at a rate of 0.18 per 100,000 for this age bracket.
  • The death rates were lowest among the under 25 years age bracket with males at 0.8 per 100,000 and females at 0.4 per 100,000.

Where and When are Carbon Monoxide Poisonings Most Common?

  • Carbon Monoxide poisonings are most common between November and February when 54.5 percent of incidents occur. This is likely due to the fact that people gather inside with heat sources or warm their cars up during the colder months of the year.
  • Residents living in the Midwest and Northeast have the highest rates of carbon monoxide poisonings (31.3 per million and 36.7 per million respectively). This is likely due to the cold winter climate experienced in these areas.

*NPDS is a near real-time, comprehensive poisoning surveillance system that collects data on calls regarding poison exposure placed to any of the U.S. poison centers. NPDS is owned and managed by the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

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