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Carbon monoxide poisoning from devices used in disaster recovery

Rosalyn Lemak, MPH


Carbon monoxide (CO) is responsible for more fatalities in the United States each year than any other toxicant. While CO exposure is a year-round problem, fatal and nonfatal CO exposures occurred more often during the fall and winter months, and the majority of nonfatal CO exposures were reported to occur in the home. Postdisaster CO poisoning is an emerging hazard. Unintentional CO poisonings have been documented after natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, ice storms, and power outages. Overwhelmingly, CO exposure results from common sources such as portable generators, gas grills, kerosene and propane heaters, pressure washers, and charcoal briquettes. Although disaster events are thought to create victims immediately and in great numbers during the initial impact, some disasters are more deadly to people during the recovery phase, when people are thinking the disaster is over. More are injured during the cleanup phase than from the storm itself.


CO poisoning, disasters, disaster recovery

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