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CDC: Carbon Monoxide is a Leading Cause of Poisoning


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9/12/2011
Gerry Oginski
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study on August 5, listing carbon monoxide (CO) as a leading cause of unintentional poisoning deaths in the United States. The authors of this comprehensive paper hope to use the data to assist further CO poisoning prevention.

CO is a colorless and odorless gas, the detection of which is nearly impossible before the incidence of serious injury or death. Though it is preventable through detection mechanisms and other measures, 15,000 emergency room visits and 500 deaths are attributed annually to the toxicity of CO in the United States. These figures look at unintentional and non-fire related CO poisoning, which comprises 0.29% of all poison exposures, though its incidence has been declining in recent years. Of 1 million people, 23.2 are subject to CO exposures on average.

Most CO poisoning studies have surveyed limited sources. However, this one used data from the National Poison Data System (NPDS), which highlights both poisonings that are managed on-site through poisoning call systems, or those treated at health-care facilities. Between 2000 and 2009, 68,316 CO poisonings took place. 45% were treated on-site and 54% were treated at a health-care facility. The remainder were unknown. Females were more likely to be poisoned, followed by children and then adults 18-44 years old. Most CO poisonings occurred between November and February.
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