Yonkers Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Hospitalizes Eleven

Eleven people were hospitalized on Friday, April 19, 2019 in the Yonkers carbon monoxide poisoning at an apartment building near Coyle Place and McLean Avenue that involved two families including children. Only a dad coming home from work when he did averted a worse tragedy.

The 11 taken to the hospital likely narrowly survived as the ambient air levels of carbon monoxide were 600 to 700 ppm. Levels that high can raise the level of carbon monoxide in the blood, carboxyhemoglobin to 50% in a matter of minutes. Levels above 50% often are fatal.

According to news reports, all of the individuals involved were transported to Westchester and Bronx hospitals. Hopefully, those involved were given hyperbaric oxygen treatment, as this is known to reduce the incidence of long term brain damage from high exposures of carbon monoxide by about 20%.


Sadly, our experience has shown us that about half of the eleven people in this incident are likely to have long term problems, despite a reasonably quick elimination of the carbon monoxide from their blood. The emergency rooms may have discharged these individuals as soon as their COHb (carboxyhemoglobin) blood levels returned to near normal with no advice as to future problems or the need for future treatment.

High levels of carbon monoxide can cause heart attacks, pulmonary problems and effect every organ in the human body. The organ most vulnerable to long term problems is the brain. If any survivor of the Yonkers carbon monoxide poisoning has ongoing problems, it is imperative that they return for medical treatment as soon as these symptoms occur. What to watch out for? Headaches of course, but also a relapse of the same symptoms they were feeling at the time of the poisoning: nausea, light headedness, fogginess. See https://carbonmonoxide.com/symptoms-of-carbon-monoxide-exposure-can-confused-causes

Long term problems related to brain damage from Yonkers carbon monoxide poisoning fall in to four major categories: changes in cognition, changes in mood, changes in behavior and neurological deficits. See https://carbonmonoxide.com/brain-damage-from-carbon-monoxide-poisoning

Changes in Cognition After Yonkers Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The most obvious sign of brain damage after carbon monoxide poisoning are the changes in cognition, the way a person thinks, remembers, processes information. A person doesn’t suddenly become stupid, but thinking, remembering and concentrating become more difficult. These changes are most noticeable when the person is tired or in pain, such as from the headaches which occur in most cases.

Also. sometimes considered a cognitive change, is change in frontal or executive functioning. Changes in executive function involve difficulty making decisions, difficulties in initiating activity and poor judgment.

Changes in Mood After Yonkers Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Changes in mood is another example of what brain damage can do to a person. As differentiated from behavior, a change in mood is how a person feels about themselves. Depression, anxiety and an overall dulling of emotions are some of the mood changes that may occur with brain damage from carbon monoxide exposure. Rapid mood swings are also something to watch out for.

Changes in Behavior After Yonkers Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Changes in behavior is differentiated as this involves how a person interacts with others. Impulsivity, anger, changes in manners and ability to stay within social norms happen.

Neurological Deficits After Yonkers Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The most distinctive pattern of brain damage after carbon monoxide poisoning includes significant changes in the way in which the nervous system interacts with the brain. The cranial nerves and the areas deep inside the brain where perception and processing of input from the central nervous system are quite specifically damaged by carbon monoxide poisoning. This can impact vision, hearing, balance and sleep.

Carbon monoxide poisoning does not happen without the fault of others. Those who survived should get to the bottom of what happened and hold those who neglected the heating system in this house responsible.

Tragedy Strikes in Battle Creek Carbon Monoxide Deaths

Sometimes it feels like we overuse the word tragedy. But when two young parents die in the Battle Creek Carbon Monoxide event on January 23, 2019, the word tragedy might not be strong enough. If talking of two deaths isn’t enough, the word parent should grab your attention. The 20-year old dad and 19-year old mom were found dead next to:

“The couple’s five-month-old son, who was found lying next to them on the air mattress, was alive and treated at a local hospital.” https://fox17online.com/2019/01/23/two-people-dead-from-carbon-monoxide-poisoning-in-battle-creek/

If there is a tragedy, there is likely a villain. The victims were 20-year-old Brandon Bull of Bronson, Michigan and 19-year-old Cylie Jo Canniff of Coldwater, Michigan AND the couples infant. The child is not only an orphan, he in all likelihood will grow up with permanent brain damage from this poisoning. For more on carbon monoxide and brain damage, click here. 

The Villain – The Portable Electric Generator

As much sadness as the story of the victims should engender, the story of the villain demands anger and justice. This young couple died because the manufacturers of portable electric generators have denied, delayed and pretended for a generation that their death machines are safe because no one would ever use them indoors. Yet these same manufacturers run advertisements where these generators are part of the dream garage.

Carbon monoxide deaths and disability are always avoided, especially those from portable electric generators like the Battle Creek carbon monoxide deaths. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission has been trying to make generators safer for a generation. Cars have eliminated 99% of the carbon monoxide emissions. Generators zero. This graphic understates how relatively dangerous these generators are because it is talking about 1990’s cars, not 2019 cars. 

For almost 20 years the United States Consumers Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has been trying to force generator manufacturers to make these generators safer. The manufacturers know how dangerous these generators are but keep coming up with stalling tactics and marginal fixes that will prevent only the most severe poisonings. But those fixes to prevent the most severe poisonings didn’t save these young people. The reason they didn’t save these victims? Because the manufacturers are just now starting to put in the rudimentary safety device that might have saved this couple.

In March of 2017 I personally testified in front of the CPSC about how dangerous these generators were. At the time, it appeared that CPSC was going to be able to force these manufacturers to make their generators as safe as a car parked in a garage. But lobbyists and a change in Administration stopped that progress. For other blogs I have written about this killer, click here. 

I warned the generator manufacturers at this 2017 hearing in Washington, D.C.  that their delay and misdirection actions would cost lives and leave people brain damaged. Tragedy struck again in the Battle Creek carbon monoxide tragedy. Sitting next to me is Joe Moses with Generac Power Systems.

The manufacturers came up with an alternative that wouldn’t prevent most poisonings but was supposed to prevent all deaths. The theory was that if they put an automatic shut off on their generators when the ambient air concentrations of carbon monoxide got to 400 ppm, no one would die. But this generator didn’t shut off and these two people died and this little boy will grow up without his natural parents.

Why? Because the manufacturers only talked about making portable electric generators safe for an entire generation. This 19 year old mom was two years old when the CPSC started the regulation process to stop these killer machines.

How dangerous are these generators? These little lawn mower sized engines produce more carbon monoxide than a thousand new cars. Yes a parking ramp size garage with all cars idling wouldn’t be any more dangerous than this little engine that could kill.

Who would represent someone so foolish as to run a generator indoors? I would. I would especially represent this innocent child who will struggle without parents and likely brain damage. The government hasn’t stopped this killer. Only trial lawyers like me can.

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.



Red Steaks Point to Fault in Wayne Michigan Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is not what is supposed to happen when a fuel such as natural gas is burned. Yet it did happen in the Wayne Michigan carbon monoxide poisoning at the Hickory Hollow Cooperative. Click here for yesterday’s blog. What should happen in a fuel burning appliance is that the fuel combines with oxygen and produces CO2 and H2O. As both gases are hot after combustion, they should harmlessly flow up and out of a chimney.

But when the H20 (water) starts condensing (returning to a liquid form) before the gases leave the chimney, this is evidence that there is something wrong with either the flame inside the appliance or the method of venting. Either there is too much fuel for the amount of oxygen or the gases are being cooled by some process that shouldn’t be occurring. Negligent maintenance of appliances and chimneys can cause either process to occur. In the Wayne Michigan carbon monoxide poisoning, it appears that bad maintenance allowed both things to happen.

Modern HVAC systems utilize galvanized steel exhaust pipes. At Hickory Hollow, the chimneys were brick with clay liners. But masonry chimneys are not necessarily unsafe if they have well maintained grout and are sealed to the elements. But if a chimney looks like this, it is likely that the seal between the hot gases of the chimney and the cool outside air is not maintained.

Condensation marks like these found after the Wayne Michigan carbon monoxide poisoning are clear indications of bad maintenance and management.

When outside air leaks into a chimney, it cools the gases. When this happens, H2O will begin to condense inside the chimney before it gets to the outside. If it is cold enough, ice could begin to form inside the chimney. If the boiler is burning hot enough, one would think it would continue to melt the ice. But even on the coldest days, boilers and furnaces don’t run continuously.  Thus the ice can formed when the boiler isn’t running. If the ice formation is bad enough, it may escalate to the point that the exhaust gases can’t escape.

Old chimney’s systems like the one shown here require the normal updraft of a fully open chimney flue to keep gases flowing. It is important to keep gases flowing not just to make sure they leave the building, but also to provide the pull of oxygen to the flame. When the hot air cools and thus slows down, carbon monoxide will be formed. When the amount of carbon monoxide gets to a significant level, the risk of it leaving the chimney escalates. Carbon monoxide may actually start flowing down the chimney and out into the house.

The question has to be asked? Should Hickory Hollow management and maintenance personnel have had warning that this could happen? Of course they should have. This is an open and obvious hazard.

When condensation marks show up on the outside of a chimney, that is a red flag. When significant rust shows up at the bottom of a chimney at the clean out, that is a serious indicator. The outside condensation can be seen in a drive-by inspection. Anyone properly trained should been warned. It would be obvious while a maintenance person was mowing the grass. While not as obvious from the street, the inside condensation marks are the type of signs that should have mandated a full inspection. But was anyone even looking?

Not only does it appear that Hickory Hollow didn’t see the outside signs, but they didn’t inspect the boilers often enough to see the inside signs. The lingering question in this case is why didn’t Hickory Hollow figure out how dangerous their chimney’s were between the first time someone went to the hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning and when someone subsequently died?

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.


Two Days of Wayne Carbon Monoxide Incidents Leave One Dead

Two Wayne carbon monoxide poisonings on consecutive days left one dead and others hospitalized. Why did it have to happen twice?

One dead, others injured in the Hickory Hollow Apartments – Wayne Carbon Monoxide incidents, on consecutive days in Wayne Michigan. How could this happen?

Our law firm does nothing but carbon monoxide poisoning cases. We have handled carbon monoxide cases around the country and just had an eight-figure settlement in a near death tragedy in Detroit which happened in 2017. We have seen neglect of tenants’ rights. We have seen bad management. But how does it happen that on two consecutive days, tenants are poisoned by carbon monoxide poisoning, by the same wrongdoing?

Click here for more about our experience in carbon monoxide cases. 

Only one time in my career have I seen something comparable. That was a hotel poisoning in Boone North Carolina where in two separate incidents in the same hotel room, three different people died. But those incidents were a couple of months apart and no one understood at the time that the first couple died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

But according to Chanel Four in Detroit, the day before one woman died, a similar incident happened at the Hickory Hollows apartments in Wayne, Michigan. https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/tragedy-at-wayne-apartment-complex-reminder-to-check-batteries-on-carbon-monoxide-detectors

An earlier story had explained that the same mechanism had caused the carbon monoxide in both situations. https://www.hometownlife.com/story/news/local/wayne-county/wayne/2019/02/04/carbon-monoxide-kills-woman-hickory-hollow-apartment-wayne/2770060002

According to reports, it wasn’t until the second incident that those in charge of the Hickory Hollows sought to investigate whether other residents were also being poisoned. Condensation inside of a furnace flue is not an Act of God. This happens because of bad maintenance and neglect. Certainly, severe cold can make it worse, but a properly functioning furnace will not create these problems. Proof? The rest of us made it through -25 degrees last week and we weren’t poisoned.

That is the rest of us, except those other residents of Hickory Hollows. This Wayne carbon monoxide incident must be a wakeup call. The Wayne carbon monoxide incident must be a wakeup to make sure every apartment has a working carbon monoxide alarm but a wakeup that everyone knows what to do if the alarm goes off.

More important, when one tenant is overcome by carbon monoxide, it is time to check all other units to be sure the same thing that caused the first incident isn’t happening anywhere else.

Elsewhere on carbonmonoxide.com we have pages of content that explains that how carbon monoxide is formed and how it can kill and permanently damage the brains of those who survive. Know this. Carbon monoxide poisonings don’t happen without the wrongful conduct of someone. If it happens in an apartment complex, it presumptively happens because of poor management and maintenance. Failing to maintain a furnace is negligent. Failing to ascertain that the cause of one person being poisoned is likely to happen to others is gross neglect.

Stories like this are why you hire an attorney. Not just to receive compensation for the harm that this neglect caused, but to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

Attorney Gordon Johnson




Detroit Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Sends Family to Hospital

The ambiguous nature of carbon monoxide poisoning resulted in not just one, but 8 hospitalized on the west side of Detroit today. One child was sick when the grandmother called the 911. After treating the child, then other family members got sick in this Detroit carbon monoxide poisoning. Then the EMT’s, who unfortunately didn’t recognize immediately the source of the illness, also got sick.

Fox 2 News Details Detroit carbon monoxide poisoning on Auburn Street. http://www.fox2detroit.com/news/local-news/8-hurt-in-speculated-carbon-monoxide-poisoning

This pattern happens in almost every case of carbon monoxide poisoning cases that the Brain Injury Group handles. Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms can be confused with many other illnesses. Click here for the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. First one person gets sick with flu-like symptoms of nausea, vomiting and headache. Then, another person gets sick and then another. Carbon monoxide poisoning doesn’t discriminate. And if the EMT’s get sick in the short time they are at a scene, the levels almost have to be deadly.

Fortunately this Detroit carbon monoxide poisoning incident happened in the daytime and the survivors didn’t just try to sleep off the symptoms. As we say on our home page, if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, get out of the home, then call 911. Carbon monoxide is odorless and invisible. Unlike smoke or soot, it cannot be seen or smelled. Thus, without a proper carbon monoxide alarm, only the human bodies illness response will warn those in peril.

Low CO carbon monoxide detectors will warn of carbon monoxide poisoning before it is too late.

Only carbon monoxide detectors can prevent incidents like this Detroit carbon monoxide poisoning where even EMT’s were hospitalized.

The survivors of this Detroit carbon monoxide poisoning were taken to the same hospital, Sinai Grace, that other of our carbon monoxide clients have been taken. We hope that the ER personnel do the right thing and send the whole family to hyperbaric oxygen treatment, available at Detroit Receiving Hospital. Only hyperbaric oxygen treatment can reduce the probability of long term injury, including brain damage.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Needed Regardless of COHb Levels

Too often, the decision to as to whether to send survivors for carbon monoxide poisoning is determined based on the initial carbon monoxide level in the blood. Carbon monoxide in the blood is called carboxyhemoglobin, abbreviated COHb. While the decision to send someone to hyperbaric treatment often is made only is a COHb level is above 25%, that determination is wrong. Almost half of those with COHb levels above 10% will suffer permanent brain damage. While hyperbaric treatment doesn’t eliminate the risk of permanent brain damage, it is the only thing that can be done to prevent brain damage in the acute phase after the poisoning.

The reason the Brain Injury Law Group is focusing on carbon monoxide poisoning is that permanent brain damage is the most significant long term risk factor for those who survive carbon monoxide poisoning. For more on brain damage from carbon monoxide exposure, click here. The Brain Injury Law Group has represented more than 100 survivors of carbon monoxide poisoning, including other Detroit survivors. Our representation of the survivors of carbon monoxide poisoning has included two settlements above $10 million in the last two years. Our current cases include cases in Detroit, Chicago, Orlando, Denver and Wisconsin.

Carbon Monoxide Attorney Necessary

It is important to retain an experienced carbon monoxide law firm almost immediately in a case such as this.  In order to recover in a carbon monoxide poisoning, it is necessary to prove precisely what wrongdoer has done wrong. That requires the preservation of evidence. Not just from a landlord, but also from management companies and HVAC companies. Lawsuits should be considered against ownership of the properties where this occurred. Management companies may have been responsible for maintaining the property. Furnaces and hot water heaters are often maintained by outside companies. All of these parties must be promptly investigated by lawyers who fully understand the laws, the science and the engineering of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Click here for more about Attorney Gordon Johnson.

Five people were hospitalized in a San Antonio carbon monoxide poisoning on Sunday, March 11, 2018. The carbon monoxide poisoning occurred at an apartment complex. Apparently stemmed from a hot water heater from a broken or blocked exhaust vent. The carbon monoxide poisoning occurred at Marbach Manor apartments on the 7200 block of Marbach Road in San Antonio, Texas. A total of 30 people were reportedly evacuated. See https://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/article/Thirty-people-evacuated-after-carbon-monoxide-12744705.php

Warm Weather no Bar to San Antonio Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning is typically thought to be something that occurs in cold weather. But even during warm weather, CO poisoning can occur. This is especially true in apartments or hotels which use commercial sized hot water heaters. Without the proper flow of oxygen to any fuel burning appliance, carbon monoxide will form in dangerous concentrations. Further, when the proper venting of fumes  is interrupted, the flow of oxygen to the flame can create toxic conditions. Most commercial sized hot water heaters require the outflow of exhaust to keep the oxygen flowing to the flame. Carbon monoxide occurs any time there is too much natural gas to the amount of oxygen present.

As we express our best wishes for those who were hospitalized, we want to emphasize that hyperbaric oxygen therapy should be required for all those poisoned. Too often, if the carbon monoxide percentage in the blood of those poisoned is below 25%, hyperbaric oxygen will not be called for. This is a mistake. Anyone who has more than a 10% carbon monoxide level in their blood, should receive hyperbaric oxygen treatment.

All in San Antonio Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Should Get Evaluated

Our second concern for the well being of those involved in this San Antonio carbon monoxide poisoning is that all evacuated should go to the hospital and have their carbon monoxide levels taken. Not every one who needs treatment gets it. This is especially true in mass carbon monoxide poisonings. On the scene triage often miss people with significant poisonings. Sometimes there are not enough ambulances to transfer everyone needing attention. Many times, the long term consequences of carbon monoxide poisoning may be more severe than expected. While a 10% carboxyhemoglobin level may only cause a slight headache it is sufficient to cause long term problems.  Up to 40% of survivors with 10% levels can have  long term consequences.

Get to the hospital, insist on hyperbaric oxygen. We say these same things after most poisonings becausse that should be the standard of care for all carbon monoxide poisonings.

Attorney Gordon Johnson

Yesterday my news feed flashed with the story of 10 hospitalized because of a Winter Storm Quinn carbon monoxide hazard. For yesterday’s blog about the Quinn carbon monoxide poisoning in North White Plains, New York, click here. At the center of that story was an electric generator. If you have been reading this blog, it is the same story, different storm. Last fall it was Hurricane Irma that hit Puerto Rico and Florida, leaving behind victims of these same type of portable generators. The victims are not just people killed, but the thousands of those who get poisoned. Our attention was drawn recently to a series of generator related carbon monoxide poisonings that happened not with the expected portable electric generators, but installed standby units that were installed too close to occupied living zones.

Seasonal Gift May Have Prevented a Quinn Carbon Monoxide Tragedy

The positive in yesterday’s developments was a gift my firm gave to a colleague in a community near where Winter Storm Quinn Carbon Monoxide event occurred this week. Every year we get many gift baskets of fruit and other holiday items from colleagues around the country. A couple of years ago I stopped trying to find something similar to give in exchange. Instead, I started giving colleagues portable carbon monoxide alarms that were far more sensitive than the standard UL approved alarms that many people put on their ceilings of plug into walls. This year I gave the portable alarm from Forensics, which you can buy here. https://www.amazon.com/Monoxide-Detector-FORENSICS-Protection-Vehicles/dp/B076S6KBP2/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1520535626&sr=8-2&keywords=forensic+car+carbon+monoxide+detector

Forensics sensitive detector could avoid Winter Storm Quinn carbon monoxide poisoning events.

Winter Storm Quinn carbon monoxide poisonings can be eliminated by assuring that you have a sensitive carbon monoxide alarm, such as the one shown here.

I called a colleague to ask him about the Winter Storm Quinn Carbon Monoxide tragedy in his back yard.  He told me that the alarm I had given him had gone off the day before at his paralegal’s residence. Both he and his paralegal had portable electric generators. Those generators were bought when Hurricane Sandy left them without power in 2012. Winter Storm Quinn had a similar impact on this part of New York and out came the portable electric generators. My colleague understood about not having a generator inside. What he and his staff didn’t realize is that generators outside must be at least 20 feet from buildings.

Standby Generators can be a Carbon Monoxide Hazard

After Hurricane Irma in Florida carbon monoxide poisonings occurred because standby electric generators were installed inside this 20 foot perimeter. As I said yesterday, the fault in these Quinn carbon monoxide poisonings lies with the manufacturers of these generators. In the Florida case, the fault also lies with any contractor who installed an engine closer than 20 feet from the inside of a home.

We understand how critical a return of power is after a power outage. My father spent his career designing standby generators, my brother his career servicing these machines. Yet, getting power back on is not worth a life. The industry knows what happens in an emergency. They know that not all consumers understand not to a generator inside. Further, the industry needs to do more to warn consumers as to what is a safe distance outside.

I also believe that stores and other businesses that rent these generators, should also make sure that their customers have a long enough extension cords that they will be able to leave the generator 20 feet from the house.

Attorney Gordon Johnson

I haven’t blogged about power outages and carbon monoxide poisoning in too long. It is winter here. The perceived risks comes from malfunctioning furnaces, not power outages and carbon monoxide. But I live in Wisconsin and Chicago. We get typical winter blizzards, not Atlantic Storms. I know that Atlantic storms mean carbon monoxide poisoning. Every time there is a major hurricane, there is a spike in the number of electric generator related carbon monoxide poisonings. People operate portable generators either inside their house or garage, or too close to their house and garage. For a list we made last spring on these events, click here.

Sometimes these stories don’t make it to the news media at the time of occurrence because the storm itself clogs the headlines. Sometimes, they don’t make the headlines because they only involve people getting sick, not fatalities. For everyone who dies of carbon monoxide poisoning from a portable electric generator, there are more than 50 people who are poisoned by carbon monoxide and survive See Hampson, CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING FROM PORTABLE ELECTRICAL GENERATORS:

Acute, severe CO poisoning from portable electric generators is common in the United States, likely affecting an estimated 4,000 individuals annually, occurring predominantly in residential settings.

Four thousand cases of poisoning from one simple cause: generator manufacturers who don’t care how dangerous the machines they make are because they continue to delude themselves that these machines will be used inside basements, garages or too near dwellings.

That delusion is proven wrong thousands of times a year. It was proven wrong in suburban New York City when 10 people were hospitalized when they lost power because of the winter storm that swept across the East Coast. See https://www.lohud.com/story/news/local/westchester/north-castle/2018/03/07/north-castle-generator-home-sickens-people/403362002/

There could be many more such cases that aren’t making the news or the victims don’t know they are getting poisoned. One might think that if you don’t know you are getting poisoned then, what is the big deal? By the time a person becomes clearly ill from carbon monoxide, their COHb levels are well above 10%.

COHb levels are the percentage of carbon monoxide in the blood. When carbon monoxide is in the blood, oxygen isn’t as it takes the place of oxygen. Thus, cells become starved for oxygen.

By the time a person is stuporous, as in the North White Plains, New York poisoning, blood levels are likely above 25%. Research has shown that more than 40% of those who COHb levels exceed 10% are at risk of long term problems from carbon monoxide poisoning, including brain damage. Statistically, 4 of the 10 survivors in North White Plains are likely to be disabled by this generator.

Poorly Designed Generators Cause Carbon Monoxide

It is time to stop the connection between power outages and carbon monoxide poisoning. The solution is to force the generator manufacturers to make their machines as low on carbon monoxide as automobiles. Many of these manufacturers, such as Honda, also make engines that have electronic fuel injection and catalytic converters. A modern engine can eliminate nearly all of the carbon monoxide risks. But the Consumer Products Safety Commission has been trying to mandate this change since 2002. Politics keep standing in the way of saving lives. At this point, only lawyers are going to force change. If you or your loved one has been harmed by an electric generator, it is time to do something. Talk to a lawyer about a products liability lawsuit against the manufacturer.

Generator manufacturers have the responsibility to make their products reasonably safe. These generators kill 75 people a year and hospitalize 4,000. A product that has these known risk factors is not safe. Government isn’t going to stop this. Only litigation can.

Attorney Gordon Johnson

Another horrific carbon monoxide detector story – the Perth Amboy carbon monoxide death was so easily avoidable. All that was needed was working carbon monoxide detectors. Blame the occupants? No. Blame the manufacturers of these detectors who rely on batteries that need to be replaced every six months instead of every year.

Most state laws, including New Jersey’s, require that all residences have carbon monoxide detectors. But the flaw in these regulations, which is directly attributable to neglect by the manufacturers of detectors, is that it does not require a 10-year battery in each of those detectors. For more on the New Jersey law click here.

The dead batteries tragedy seems unavoidable. But it is not. Most manufacturers are making carbon monoxide detectors that have ten year batteries. I have carried such a carbon monoxide detector with me for years. You can buy these detectors on Amazon, click here to see all the offerings.

Perth Amboy Carbon Monoxide dead batteries

The Perth Amboy Carbon Monoxide death and poisonings could have been avoided with a 10-year lithium battery carbon monoxide poisoning.

What Happened in Perth Amboy Carbon Monoxide Tragedy

According to the story on ABCNY.com, there were at least three non-working detectors in the multi-family Perth Amboy Carbon Monoxide incident. http://abc7ny.com/13-year-old-girl-dies-several-others-injured-by-carbon-monoxide-poisoning-in-nj/2863323 As reported there:

“A 13-year-old girl died and at least 35 others were injured in an apparent incident of carbon monoxide poisoning in New Jersey.

It happened on Thursday evening inside a three-story residential building on Fayette Street in Perth Amboy.

The girl was rushed to the hospital, but died.

35 other victims, including 7 officers, were evaluated and treated for CO poisoning. Many of the victims were children, seen passing out and getting lightheaded.


According to the story, six of the victims of this poisoning were unconscious when they reached the hospital. While nothing is known yet about their condition, we certainly hope that all the significantly poisoned survivors are getting hyperbaric oxygen therapy. There is no question that severely carbon monoxide poisoned survivors have much better outcomes if they received hyperbaric oxygen therapy. With so many victims, it may be difficult to get all the survivors such therapy, but even those who did not lose consciousness have a much better chance of avoiding permanent brain damage if the get hyperbaric treatment.

“We immediately knew it was some kind of toxin that was taking everybody over, we knew that if we went in there we would put ourselves in danger, but that’s our jobs, that’s what we need to do to get the people out to be able to do what we need to do and attempt to save their lives,” said Cep. Chief Lawrence Cattano, Perth Amboy Police.

Part of the problem with these battery replacement carbon monoxide detectors is that is what is called for by the Underwriters Laboratory standard, UL UL2034.

Newer CO detectors are being made with lithium batteries which are far more efficient. Lithium batteries conveniently last 10 years which means less upkeep and better chance to minimize deaths caused by carbon monoxide as well as being better for the environment seeing as less batteries will be discarded and require 23 times less nonrenewable natural resources. For the safety of those living in rented properties, landlords should be mandated by UL2034 to provide tenants with carbon monoxide detectors supported by lithium batteries. The cost is minor, they can be purchased at Home Depot for around $40 or $35 for a bundle price. The average carbon monoxide detector without a lithium battery costs around $20 plus the cost of new batteries every year. Lithium battery operated CO detectors are completely feasible and a small price to pay for someone’s life.


Winter is Carbon Monoxide Season – Get Ready

Winter has always been carbon monoxide season, so much so that a 1922 book coined the term “winter headache” for what was undoubtedly carbon monoxide poisoning. Martinet, Alfred, Clinical Diagnosis, Case Examination and the Analysis of Symptoms.

Winter has long been recognized as carbon monoxide season.

From the 1922 book Clinical Diagnosis, Case Examination and the Analysis of Symptoms by Alfred Martinet: “Apparently also belonging in this category is the inveterate winter headache of city dwellers, coextensive with the cold season of the year and artificial heating of the houses, and absent throughout the warmer period and during life in the country.”

One would think since we no longer heat with coal that winter would have stopped being carbon monoxide season. (Most homes in the northern part of the United States use forced air, with gas as the most common fuel.) And while it is true that in raw numbers, the number of people who die from carbon monoxide poisoning is undoubtedly reduced in the last 100 years, there is still much that can go wrong any time you use a fossil fuel, even natural gas, for the “artificial heating of the houses.”
Sometime in this period of late fall, the furnace will have kicked on for the first time. Often times it is early in the heating system that the worst poisonings occur. As with a car that hasn’t been driven for a while, the start up may put stress on parts that have not been used in months.
A thorough seasonal checkup of the HVAC system is always recommended, even for single family homes. In a commercial establishment or a public school, it is the standard of care to have it done by a professional HVAC firm.
With the setting back of the clocks and the end of Daylight Savings Time, it is time to check the batteries in all detectors, both smoke and carbon monoxide. Even those detectors which are hardwired into the house need to have batteries changed every six months.

But it is also important to know that chronic carbon monoxide exposure can still occur during the carbon monoxide season, even if the standard carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. Those detectors are not sensitive enough to mid-level concentrations of carbon monoxide, especially if the leak is occurring day after day. UL 2034, the standard which carbon monoxide detectors are required to alarm, is designed to warn of eminent danger situations, not avoid concentrations where the COHb level may get to be as high as 10%. A level of carbon monoxide in ambient air could be 149 ppm for 3 hours and 59 minutes before the alarm went off. That is a way too much carbon monoxide and if it was happening day after day, we would predict nearly a 75% chance of disability. The analogy would be the difference between a single sport concussion and the lifetime of hits that a football player suffers, leading to CTE.
We recommend that people purchase CO alarms that register levels as low as 10 ppm, immediately.