Severe Carbon Monoxide Poisoning from Portable Electric Generators

We handle all kind of carbon monoxide poisoning cases, but amongst the the most preventable are Severe Carbon Monoxide Poisoning from portable electric generators. The reason severe carbon monoxide poisoning happens from portable electric generators is that these generators have the most deadly the exhaust. We are involved in a case where when we tested the generators, the exhaust spewed out 87,000 ppm. That number was in accordance with manufacturer’s specs. Most emergency responders have meters that only go to 2,000 ppm. (When you see a 2,000 ppm reported, it is almost always because that was as high as the meter went.)

Severe carbon monoxide poisoning from cars

The frequency that car exhaust is the cause of severe carbon monoxide poisoning has been drastically reduced since EPA emissions mandated carbon monoxide reductions.

In contrast, a car exhaust might be as low as 87 ppm, only twice what a properly functioning natural gas furnace might produce. Why one might ask is a small 5KW engine, about the size of what you might put on a lawn mower, producing CO levels hundreds of times more deadly than a car exhaust? It is because the portable electric generator manufacturers have ignored two generations of improved technology in reducing carbon monoxide emissions.

What are the consequences of these severe poisonings carbon monoxide poisonings? We did some research in medical journals and here is what we found. According to Hampson, The Journal of Emergency Medicine, Vol. 49, No. 2, pp. 125–129, 2015:

  • Acute, severe CO poisoning from portable electric generators likely affects an estimated 4000 individuals annually, occurring predominantly in residential settings.
  • Blood carboxyhemoglobin levels averaged 22.7. These are severe levels. Anything over 10% COHb levels come with more than a 40% risk of permanent brain damage.
  • 24% demonstrated evidence of cardiac ischemia.

Thus the risk factors of severe carbon monoxide poisoning from portable electric generators include not just brain damage but heart and other organ damage. When people die from severe carbon monoxide poisoning, they usually die from heart attack. The more vulnerable the person’s cardiovascular system is, the more likely they are to die from severe carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you are curious as to who makes these generators, click here. 

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