Detectors make a difference

Carbon monoxide detectors make a difference. Here are some cases where they saved lives. (Flickr / Creative Commons / Judy van der Velden)

By Jennifer Ball

In a near tragedy in Greenburgh, NY, part of Westchester County, detectors saved hundreds of children. In carbon monoxide poisonings, detectors make a difference. In the daycare, on Friday, May 26, hundreds of children were sent out into the rainy weather that morning after the carbon monoxide detectors went off in the building. When the detectors went off, they instituted their emergency plan and got the kids to the community center nearby. Investigators determined that the carbon monoxide levels were higher in the kitchen. The building was ventilated, and the source of the carbon monoxide was isolated. The children were allowed back into the building when levels returned to normal. As the article from News 12 Westchester stated, detectors made all the difference.

We represent students at a school carbon monoxide poisoning in Girard, IL, North Mac Middle School. The warning of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning were the kids, staff, and teachers getting sick. They did not have carbon monoxide detectors to tell them of the dangers sooner. Their bodies were the alarms. Carbon monoxide detectors would have signalled the exact danger and would have caused an earlier evacuation. Carbon monoxide detectors must also be stored in areas where people are, not just in the boiler room, where someone might not hear it right away when they go off.

Another example of a school carbon monoxide poisoning was also in Illinois. Horace Mann Middle School in Chicago, IL was evacuated after carbon monoxide detectors went off, according to DNA Info. The newly installed detectors warned them of the dangers and caused an earlier evacuation than the Girard school carbon monoxide poisoning, for example. However, according to the article, they still waited a couple of hours before contacting the fire department. It is important to act quickly in carbon monoxide poisoning situations. Carbon monoxide can overtake people fairly quickly.

Another example of carbon monoxide detectors making the difference is in the case of the Austin police officers. An Austin police officer was sickened by his very own cruiser. Exhaust was seeping into the cabin of the Ford Explorers, sickening police officers. In response, the department installed a carbon monoxide alert system. When the officer was notified of the carbon monoxide gas leaking into the cabin, he was able to notify the city’s fleet services department. This was a better situation compared to the police officer who crashed his car into a tree due to carbon monoxide poisoning in his Ford Explorer in Newport Beach, CA. The Austin police officer that prompted the installation of detectors had felt sick and ended up hitting a curb. For more information on those situations, see this link: https://www.lawenforcementtoday.com/police-suffering-carbon-monoxide-poisoning-driving-ford-explorer/.

A carbon monoxide detector warned a family in Hobart, IN to a carbon monoxide poisoning in their residence. The detector actually saved a baby’s life. Babies are more vulnerable to carbon monoxide because their bodies are smaller. The baby in the apartment building was just three months old.

The beeping of a carbon monoxide detector and a sick resident alerted the building manager to the high levels of carbon monoxide in a Boulder, CO building. He called the fire department, who rescued several residents and a few pets. The building was evacuated, and the fire department investigated the source of the carbon monoxide.

These are some of the cases where carbon monoxide detectors save lives. Carbon monoxide detectors make a difference. They can be a valuable tool for survival in any place you spend time, such as hotels, schools, boats, homes, and businesses. These situations remind us to have working carbon monoxide detectors in our homes and businesses, and to check and change the batteries every six months.

Portable Generator causes Carbon Monoxide Death in Chicago, with two others seriously injured on Saturday. Late last night I wrote a blog about a portable generator carbon monoxide death in Kingsport, Tennessee that happened three weeks ago. In my last thoughts in that blog, I predicted I would be writing about it today, then realized that two had died in Minnesota over the weekend. That was a portable generator carbon monoxide death where two people were killed in a camper by a portable electric generator. Before I got a chance to write about that incident, I learned of this portable generator carbon monoxide death in Chicago.

Portable generator carbon monoxide deaths

Despite this proposed rule from the CPSC, Portable generator carbon monoxide deaths keep happening. This time in Chicago where one is dead and two others are hospitalized.

According to the Chicago Tribune and other sources, one woman was pronounced dead at the scene of this latest in a string of fatalities dead on the scene. In addition, two other adults were taken to hospitals with severe carbon monoxide poisoning. Hopefully those individuals got Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. For the Tribune story, click here.

From the Tribune:

Emergency crews were called to a home in the 11300 block of South Church Street in the Morgan Park neighborhood about 9:15 p.m. and found 62-year-old Linda Russell, another woman and a man who were sickened by the fumes, according to officials.

Russell, who lived at the Church Street address, was pronounced dead on the scene at 9:48 p.m., the medical examiner’s office said.

High carbon monoxide levels were found in the home and an autopsy confirmed that the cause of Linda Russell’s death was carbon monoxide poisoning.

Area South detectives in Chicago are conducting a death investigation. Hopefully that investigation will turn to the manufacturer of the portable electric generator. We know we don’t know of all the recent incidents, but the ones we know of include:

This must stop. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission has been trying to stop it since 2002. Despite Notice of Advanced Rulemaking in 2006 and the Proposed Rulemaking in 2016, it continues on unabated. Litigation against the generator manufacturers is the only option. As we said yesterday, only a products liability case where the generator manufacturers are made to account for this continued carnage can do what the regulators have not been able to do: make these machines as safe from carbon monoxide poisoning as cars have been for a generation.

Shortly after the CPSC started their rule making process, the manufacturers of marine generators eliminated 99% of the carbon monoxide from marine generators. That was in 2006. Yet in 2017, those portable electric generators are still being made even though that the uninformed public will continue to use them in place and under circumstances that will kill. And it is not just the person who misuses this product who dies or is disabled. It is often completely innocent family members. Those people need a voice, they need that voice to call the generator manufacturers to account.

Who are the manufacturers of portable electric generators? The leading manufacturers are all members of an organization called the PGMA, for Portable Fenerators Manufacturers Association. See http://www.pgmaonline.com/ These companies manufacture gas powered generators that have internal combustion engines that run dirty, so dirty they can poison a soccer area sized building. The CPSC has been asking them for a decade to make them not as clean as cars, which have a 99% reduction in carbon monoxide emissions. The CPSC is only asking for 93%. The PGMA continues to lobby that such is not in the public interest.

Generator carbon monoxide deaths have taken  751 lives in the ten years studied by the CPSC shown in the above graph. 25,000 more received treatment for injuries in these events. There can be no benefits in the public interest that could outweight that death toll. Yet apparently only litigation will frame the public policy debate in a way the generator manufacturers realize that their profits are not worth this harm.

Attorney Gordon Johnson

800-992-9447

P.S. Since we posted this, there is another story that came across the wire: http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/woman-young-child-treated-for-carbon-monoxide-poisoning-in-bowmanville-1.3445347

 

Portable electric generator kills one and three others poisoned in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Carbon monoxide from another portable electric generator kills again. This time the tragedy was in Kingsport, Tennessee where Denver Strickler was killed. Three other people from his household were hospitalized after carbon monoxide fumes from a portable electric generator invaded their household. This repetitive tragedy happened on May 12, 2017, only a 30 miles down the road from the place where two others died in a similar incident two weeks prior. See http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/law-enforcement/2017/04/27/Father-and-son-dead-from-Carter-County-carbon-monoxide-poisoning.html?ci=content&lp=2&p=1 Both fatal portable electric generator incidents occurred in an area of Tennessee east of Knoxville, south of the Virginia state line.

Portable Electric Generators kill three people in two separate incidents in north east Tennessee in two weeks. The site of the two fatal incidents are only 30 miles apart.

Mr. Strickler was 45. According to his obituary he was survived by three children and a grandmother. See http://trinitymemorialcenters.com/obituaries/denver-strickler/ Three other residents of the Strickler home were hospitalized at Holston Valley Hospital. While the police report states that the other residents were taken to the hospital for observation, they are also likely to have significant problems from the carbon monoxide poisoning.  The ambient air levels that it would take to kill someone from carbon monoxide are likely to leave survivors of the same incident with serious long term health consequences. For more on the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, click here: http://carbonmonoxide.com

From the Kingsport Police Report:

Upon our arrival, we spoke to KFD personnel. They advised that the residents were running a gasoline powered generator in the basement of the home. The generator was the house’s sole means of electricity. Someone sat the generator next to a vent in the basement, and they had a small fan near it to blow the exhaust out of the vent. However, the fumes failed to exit, and made the occupants sick.

Before you blame the victims, understand that this is likely single most foreseeable deadly misuse of a product in our marketplace. And the portable electric generator manufacturers and their trade association knows this.  The time has come for these portable electric generator deaths to stop. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has been trying to cajole and recently force the portable generator manufacturers to stop this mayhem. To date, the CPSC has been unsuccessful and the death machines are still being manufactured. In the fall of 2016, the CPSC issued a Proposed Rule to require these manufacturers to make their generators safe, but all but one of the major manufacturers has been denying, delaying and disputing the need for greater safety.

Under product liability law, both on negligence and strict liability grounds, the manufacturers and retailers who sell these portable electric generators need to be held accountable. One of the elements to a successful products liability claim is the importance of showing to the jury that the manufacturers were aware of “other similar incidents.” This element is so important that such prior tragedies are abbreviated as OSI’s. Are there OSI’s for portable generator carbon monoxide deaths? Thousands of them. In 2016, the CPSC published the results of ten years of surveillance on these generators. They found that the there were more than 750 deaths and 25,000 hospitalizations from OSI’s with portable electric generators in the ten years before they published the proposed rule.

I was asked by the CPSC to speak at their public hearing on this proposed rule in February.

My testimony is above and can be found in full at our youtube channel. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPuhPbzzBNvp_tPom-XmRNQ  What I said there applies in the Kingsport case, the Carter County case, the carbon monoxide poisoning related deaths and injuries that occur over this summer weekend, like they do almost every week, every year.

And as I finish this blog, I learn about two more portable electric generator deaths in Minnesota. SMH.

In this video, when I said “there is a lot of talk here that now we are going to do this and now we are going to do that”, I was talking about the portable electric generator manufacturers. They have a trade association called the PGMA, for Portable Generators Manufacturer’s Association with one of its primary purposes seems to be to lobby against the CPSC’s proposed rule.  Until the generator manufacturers stop making these death machines, this story will get retold almost every week. We will keep telling those stories and we are ready to do our part to stop this carnage by suing the manufacturers. Something must be done now.

Come back and read us again. We will continue to lay forth the facts that about how the portable electric generator manufacturers keep downplaying these deaths and how the retailers of these death machines, don’t seem to want to know how dangerous the product they sell is. Portable electric generators will continue to kill until injured parties and/or those who survive force them to stop. Force them to stop in a court of law.

Attorney Gordon Johnson

800-992-9447

 

Fargo carbon monoxide poisoning

At least eleven people, including a 9-year-old girl sent to the hospital, were sickened by the Fargo carbon monoxide poisoning. The incident occurred at a swimming pool at the La Quinta Inn.

A Fargo carbon monoxide poisoning sent one 9-year-old girl to the hospital Monday morning. At least 10 other people fell ill from the carbon monoxide poisoning at a hotel pool in Fargo, North Dakota. The carbon monoxide levels reached 300 parts per million nearby the pool. Some of the carbon monoxide leaked into the hallways. However, no one was in the nearby rooms at the time of the poisoning. To deal with the poisoning, they closed the gas appliances and vented the pool.

Levels of 300 parts per million are very high. To put it in perspective, this is three times the level at which firefighters put on their masks. If people were sleeping in the adjacent rooms, there would be a higher danger. Since carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, it can be hard to detect without an alarm. Sleeping people are at particular danger, because they can succumb to the gas in their sleep.

Another risk factor for carbon monoxide poisoning is age. Young children are at a higher risk of succumbing to carbon monoxide poisoning because they have smaller bodies. They feel the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning, headaches, nausea, confusion, quicker. Pets are also at a greater risk of succumbing to carbon monoxide poisoning quicker. They also have smaller bodies and can be affected more quickly. In addition, sometimes pets can serve as carbon monoxide alarms themselves. There have been several cases where animals sense something strange and alert their owners to something amiss.

Carbon monoxide detectors are essential to preventing fatal poisonings. Since it is colorless, tasteless, and odorless, it can be a ghostly poison. As the fireman said, carbon monoxide detectors are cheap insurance against incidents like this. They even sell portable carbon monoxide detectors, which you can bring to hotels with you to be safe. In some states, hotels are required to have carbon monoxide detectors, but it may be smart to bring a detector just in case, even if the hotel is supposed to have an alarm. North Dakota’s law requires carbon monoxide detectors in private dwellings.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause neurological symptoms in the days and weeks following the poisoning. This is called delayed neurological sequelae. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy actually reduces the risk of neurological sequelae. Memory and balance problems can be some of the symptoms of brain damage caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide causes anoxia, lack of oxygen. It also causes excess of a neuron-killing neurotransmitter. The most affected parts of the brain are located deep on the brain’s oxygen route, in parts of the brain such as the hippocampus and the corpus callosum. Oxygen is normally carried by hemoglobin, but when there is excess carbon monoxide, this does not happen effectively. Carbon monoxide binds to the protein hemoglobin with 200 times the affinity of oxygen.

As children are more affected by carbon monoxide, it is our hope that she received hyperbaric oxygen therapy to hopefully reduce the neurological sequelae that can crop up in the 2 to 40 days following the acute poisoning.

La Quinta Fargo – Pool Heater and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Again?

Pool heater carbon monoxide at a hotel. How did this get to be such a routine event that is now a key search term? Winter used to be the time for carbon monoxide, to the point that the medical community generations ago labeled the early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning as “winter headache.” Carbon monoxide poisoning is thought to be associated with the heating season in the North. But one more time, one of the two main culprits has struck again. The pool heater. The other main culprit is portable generators, being used after power is lost or turned off.

Pool heater the culprit in another hotel carbon monoxide poisoning? A 9 year old is hospitalized at the La Quinta Inn in Fargo, North Dakota. Where was the CO detector?

Over the holiday weekend, the La Quinta Inn in Fargo North Dakota had high enough carbon monoxide levels in the pool area that a 9-year-old child was taken by ambulance to the hospital and 10 others sought treatment. The levels in the pool area were reported to be above 300 ppm. Often the reported ambient air ppm numbers are lower than they were when the emergency occurred because the area gets vented out before the fire department measures the levels.

This makes at least the sixth pool area carbon monoxide event we are aware of in the last couple of years. In Boone, North Carolina, there were two separate events involving fatalities from the same pool heater, a couple of months apart. https://carbonmonoxide.com/2013/06/medical-examiner-in-boone-best-western-co-deaths-resigns.html In Niles, Michigan, one child died and nine others hospitalized from a pool heater. A few weeks later, another Detroit area hotel pool area had to be evacuated when the carbon monoxide alarm went off, before anyone was severely poisoned. A couple of years ago, a someone suffered severe carbon monoxide poisoning after a Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin area pool heater malfunction. https://carbonmonoxide.com/2013/06/carbon-monoxide-strikes-at-wisconsin-dells-hotel.html

The one incident above that didn’t involve serious injury or death is the one in Novi, Michigan. The reason, the presence of a carbon monoxide detector. None was present in the other five events. Hotels have long been one of the principle areas of concern and litigation over carbon monoxide poisonings. There is no justification at this juncture for hotels not to be equipped with carbon monoxide alarms, especially in any area where there is a fuel burning appliance. Indoor pools have heated water, a lot of heated water. That requires a fuel burning appliance, too often in a setup separate from the better designed and maintained main boiler system.

Carbon monoxide detectors are needed everywhere in a hotel that the people are. But CO detectors at heated pools must be the starting point on that listed. What makes the poisoning emotionally more impactful is that there are usually children involved in those poisonings, because for children, going to the pool is the reason they are staying at the hotel. That means they will be at the pool longer, exercising more, inhaling more carbon monoxide. Children uptake carbon monoxide faster than adults and more easily succumb to its effects.

These tragedies must stop. They are avoidable. The responsibility for these tragedies needs to be moved up the franchise ladder. The Days Inns corporates, the Wyndham World Wide, the La Quinta Inn franchising body must do more to make sure the individual franchisor understands this peril. It is not enough to just “franchise” the name and the reservation system of the hotel. The franchise hotel chain must teach the operators of the hotels that run under their brand, how to do more than keep the light on, but to keep the air safe.

 

 

boat carbon monoxide poisoning

While having fun on a boat, the kids made a fatal mistake, not realizing boat carbon monoxide poisoning was a real danger. The back of the boat on an inboard ski boat is most dangerous.

When 16-year-old Raven Little-White died during an evening on a boat, the medical examiner assumed it was a drowning. However, the toxicology reports confirmed that it was boat carbon monoxide poisoning that she succumbed to, according to WTXL. She was sitting on the back of the boat when she slipped into the water. Another passenger that was on the back of the boat felt woozy and moved towards the cockpit area. Without knowing it, Raven was in great danger of carbon monoxide poisoning, and now people are working to raise awareness of this danger.

The more dangerous kind of boat in terms of risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is an inboard ski boat. Carbon monoxide poisoning can also occur on an outboard board, but the risk is higher with inboard ski boats. These kind of boats have the motors under the boat. The carbon monoxide fumes can come up through the swimming platform especially when idling or traveling at slow speeds. In Raven’s poisoning, they were traveling at only 10 miles per hour. On the outboard boats, the motor is on the back of the boat, further away from passengers. This specific kind of boat (inboard) is more dangerous in terms of carbon monoxide poisoning than an outboard motor, but also there is a part of the boat that is more dangerous: the back.

The back of the boat, where Raven and her friend who felt woozy were sitting, is known as the “kill zone.” Many people think that this is because of the potential of the propeller to injure passengers, but carbon monoxide poisoning is also a great danger. When her friend felt woozy, her friends helped her to another area of the boat, knowing something was wrong. At that time, Raven slipped off the back of the boat, where the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning was higher. The boat was only traveling at 10 miles per hour, preventing the fumes from dissipating quickly into the air. The back of the boat is where the fumes will be more intense.

One of the ways of dealing with a senseless tragedy like this is trying to prevent it from happening in the future. Although this won’t bring Raven back, it is a healthy way of dealing with the unfortunate event. The police said that they tell people about the dangers of sitting on the back of the boat. When they see people doing it, they stop to talk to them about it, just to educate them and make sure they know the dangers. Many people don’t. In addition, the lesson about avoiding the back of the boat while it is in operation in the boater safety curriculum is now dubbed “Raven’s Rule.” This is part of the legacy of the popular, caring girl who lost her life in an accident on Lake Waccamaw. Raven was well-liked and was active in sports and her church youth group at the time of her death.

The kids that were on the boat at the time of the accident ranged in ages from 11 to 17. The kids were not drinking. They were just having fun, but they made a mistake. They didn’t know the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning on boats. They were acting responsibly to the best of their knowledge. Unfortunately, it was just lack of awareness that caused them to make the mistake. Hopefully, raising awareness about boating safely and Raven’s story will help to prevent tragedies like this in the future.

police SUV carbon monoxide poisoning

Keeping the streets safe may involve action from police departments that use Ford Explorers. This is because of the risk of police SUV carbon monoxide poisoning, where exhaust from the rear of the vehicle seeps into the vehicle’s air.

We have been covering the reports that police SUVs have problems with carbon monoxide emissions within the car. These police SUV carbon monoxide poisoning have only grown larger in number in the recent past. The Ford Explorer vehicle that is causing the problems is an extremely popular car in the United States and is a car often used by police officers. At this point, Austin, Texas is now looking into its fourth reported carbon monoxide leak in a police car, according to the Austin-American Statesman.

While one Newport Beach officer reported the gas nearly killed him, many others report a rotten egg-like smell that fills the car when the exhaust from the rear of the car seeps into the vehicle. The response from Ford has been less than enthusiastic and not satisfactory to the police departments who feel their officers lives are being threatened. The Austin police took extra precautions by installing warning systems in their police vehicles that would warn the officers when exhaust is seeping into the air. This line of action was prompted by another police officer in Austin who nearly passed out while driving in March, according to the Statesman. This most recent situation in Austin  was less dire thanks to the new warning systems.

The police officer who was driving noticed the warning system activated while driving. He pulled over and reported the incident without getting sick. These warning systems are a necessary precaution for those driving Ford Explorers, since Ford is not taking action to stop the problem of gas seepage. More police departments that use Ford Explorers should consider installing warning systems to prevent the occurrence of carbon monoxide poisoning while driving.

If the driver of the vehicle passes out while driving, the carbon monoxide poisoning could turn into a fatal automobile crash. The Newport Beach police officer crashed into a tree. He even said that he could have lost his life that day. This threat is very real to those with Ford Explorer SUVs. The necessary action to prevent carbon monoxide poisonings is not being taken by Ford, so police departments are having to take matters into their own hands and install warning systems. Making sure these incidents are reported and documented, not swept under the rug, is also an important aspect to fixing this dangerous problem.

After the first Austin case which prompted the department to install warning systems, there were two other reported incidents of carbon monoxide seeping into the air in the car. This makes the most recent incident the fourth documented case of carbon monoxide seepage into the police Ford Explorers in Austin, Texas. This is four times too many. The department made a very smart move installing the warning systems to (1) prevent fatal crashes caused by unconsciousness due to carbon monoxide poisoning and (2) to document the cases of carbon monoxide poisoning in their police vehicles.

Austin, Texas is not the only city who is concerned. Since the Austin police officer was sickened by carbon monoxide, many other departments across the country have reached out about how best to protect their officers. Many police departments across the country are affected by this problem. Austin, Texas is just one place that needs to and wants to help solve this problem.

Five people were transported to the hospital following a Union carbon monoxide poisoning Sunday night. Union, NJ was the site of dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide in a home, according to TAPinto.

Reports said that a female was unconscious in the home, and another person had undisclosed medical issues.

Sadly, this tragic event also killed the family dog. The levels in the home were extremely high. The old cliche about canaries in the coal mine is too often true.  Since dogs are normally smaller than adult humans, the carbon monoxide will affect them more. Their bodies are smaller, so it takes less of the gas to overcome them. It takes less for them to die from carbon monoxide poisoning. This is also true for children, since they are smaller than normal adult humans, too.

The levels of carbon monoxide that the emergency personnel found were about 100 ppm at the door and about 900 ppm on the second floor. These are lethal levels of the toxin.

When one breathes in high levels of carbon monoxide in the air, the brain and body becomes deprived of oxygen. Carbon monoxide binds to hemoglobin, a protein in the blood that carries oxygen, with about 200 times the affinity of oxygen. This process of oxygen deprivation is called anoxia.

Then, in addition, carbon monoxide causes excess of a neuron-killing neurotransmitter in the brain called glutamate. In effect, too much carbon monoxide causes brain cells to die.

The most vulnerable parts of the brain are those located deep in the brain at the end of its oxygen route. These parts of the brain that are susceptible to brain damage include the hippocampus and the corpus callosum. They control memory and coordination, respectively. This is why some people with carbon monoxide poisoning experience memory problems or balance issues. With levels this high, there is a risk of brain damage.

A scientific study demonstrated that hyperbaric oxygen therapy is actually an effective treatment for trying to reduce cognitive sequelae in the days and weeks following the acute carbon monoxide poisoning. Hyperbaric oxygen treats with 100 percent oxygen in a pressurized chamber. In the 2 to 40 days following the acute event, victims may begin to suffer from delayed neurological sequelae (DNS). Sequelae simply means complications after the fact. The study mentioned demonstrated that hyperbaric oxygen therapy significantly reduced cognitive sequelae after an acute carbon monoxide poisoning.

With levels reaching 900 ppm, the carboxyhemoglobin levels, which measures the amount of carbon monoxide in the blood, were probably very high. With very high levels, it is best practice to treat using hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Hopefully, that is what happened in this case.

There may be fault in this case of the Union carbon monoxide poisoning. From a legal perspective, it is important to take the carboxyhemoglobin levels as soon as possible to get an accurate idea of how high their carboxyhemoglobin levels were during the peak of the event. This can help prove that the victims suffered significant damages. With every minute of breathing normal oxygen, or being treated with oxygen, the carboxyhemoglobin levels go down.

According to the report, the source of the poisoning was a faulty furnace. The Union FMBA Local 46 posted on Facebook encouraging residents to purchase carbon monoxide alarms if they have not already.

Union Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The Manitowoc carbon monoxide poisoning that occurred in October of last year sent 17 people to the hospital. The Manitowoc, WI building affected was owned by Rep. Paul Tittl and holds The Manitowoc County Republican Party Headquarters, Susie Kay’s Cafe, and five apartments. Ten people in the apartments and seven people from the cafe were taken to hospitals for treatment.

Manitowoc carbon monoxide poisoning

Rep. Tittl challenged his citations after the Manitowoc carbon monoxide poisoning.

Four people were treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy, a treatment that is usually only used in severe cases. This treatment actually significantly reduces the risk of cognitive sequelae following the poisoning.

The Manitowoc carbon monoxide poisoning came into the news again recently. Rep. Tittl was issued three citations, and he is challenging all of them. Two of the citations were for smoke detector violations ($691 each) and were issued in November of 2016. He was issued another citation in early 2017 for having no fire extinguisher in a common area ($187), according to ABC 2 WBAY.

From the news article, Rep. Tittl made this statement: “We are challenging the tickets. This was a horrible situation that should not have happened. The smoke detectors in the common areas of the building were all operational. I later learned that the apartment’s detectors were removed by the tenants and that the fire extinguisher was stolen.”

Wisconsin carbon monoxide detector law requires any building used for sleeping or lodging purposes should have a carbon monoxide detector in sleeping areas, if it uses fuel-burning appliances. This is true for apartment buildings as well as hotels and motels. We have seen carbon monoxide poisonings in hotels, specifically in Niles, MI, recently. In the Manitowoc carbon monoxide poisoning, an operational carbon monoxide detector could possibly have warned people of the poisoning before they fell ill.

After an investigation into the Manitowoc carbon monoxide poisoning, a few problems were found that could have been possible causes. Some pipes coming from the boiler were blocked, and this could have affected the combustion. Improper combustion is what causes carbon monoxide levels to rise and to become carbon monoxide poisoning. A cracked heat exchanger was another problem listed in the investigation report. No water in the boiler tank was another possible cause of the Manitowoc carbon monoxide poisoning.

The incident occurred on October 31, 2016. Rep. Tittl said that he had the boiler serviced twice during October. The boiler was taken into evidence.When  equipment is improperly serviced, it can still cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Just like in this case, a missing piece of the puzzle (cracked heat exchanger, etc.) and an improper repair can cause people to become ill from the “silent killer.”

Carbon monoxide is called the silent killer sometimes because it is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. It can sneak up on you, making you feel sick with headaches, nausea, and confusion.

Pennsylvania carbon monoxide poisoning

Coal-burning appliances without proper ventilation can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. An unclean furnace is likely what caused the Pennsylvania carbon monoxide poisoning.

A Pennsylvania carbon monoxide poisoning sent three adults and two infants to the hospital, according to Standard Speaker. Firefighters were sent to a couple of homes that had elevated levels of carbon monoxide.

One side of the duplex had levels at 140 ppm with levels at 106 ppm in the sleeping area. The other side had levels at 40 ppm. It was not clear how long the levels were elevated. This was difficult to determine as the residents did not speak English.

Exposure to carbon monoxide at levels of 140 ppm can raise carboxyhemoglobin levels in the blood to above 10 percent. This seems to be the threshold where brain damage has about a 40 percent likelihood to occur.

Carbon monoxide displaces oxygen in the blood. Hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen, binds to carbon monoxide instead of the cell-feeding oxygen. When the brain is deprived of oxygen, damage can occur. In addition, carbon monoxide poisoning actually creates an excess of a neuron-killing neurotransmitter in the brain.

The most concerning part of this news story is that it affected two infants. With bodies that are much smaller than adults, infants and small children have a higher risk factor. Carbon monoxide can overtake them at a faster rate than adults. This is also true for small pets in the home.

The source of the carbon monoxide in the Pennsylvania carbon monoxide poisoning was likely the coal-burning furnaces. Both homes affected had coal-burning heat. Firefighters, who shut down the furnaces and ventilated the homes, said that the both of the furnaces had a lot of soot.

With cooler temperatures, the need for operating furnaces is still here. It is a good idea to have your furnace checked out every year to make sure it is clean and no vents are being blocked. Doing so can help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning like this one in Pennsylvania.

One of the residents was complaining of a headache, just one of the symptoms that can be caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, confusion, and disorientation. Chest pains can also be a sign that there is elevated carbon monoxide in the air. Seizures and coma are also possible.

These symptoms might be the immediate signs that something is wrong, called the acute symptoms. This is reason enough to call for help from emergency personnel immediately. If you feel these symptoms and suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, get to fresh air immediately and call for help.

There are many more symptoms that can occur after the initial carbon monoxide poisoning, called delayed symptoms. In the weeks following the poisoning, delayed neurological sequelae can occur. These symptoms include memory loss, movement disorders, Parkinson-like syndrome, communication disturbances, depressed mood, dementia and psychosis.

It has been scientifically proven that hyperbaric oxygen therapy can actually decrease the risk of cognitive sequelae if administered after acute carbon monoxide poisoning. It is our hope that the people in the Pennsylvania carbon monoxide poisoning were made aware of the risks of CO poisoning and were given hyperbaric oxygen therapy.