Carbon Monoxide Injuries: Exposure at Home & the Workplace
Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning occurs when carbon monoxide builds up in the bloodstream following acute exposure. When there is an excess of carbon monoxide in the air the body replaces oxygen in red blood cells with carbon monoxide, quickly leading to serious tissue damage, neurological health issues or even death.
Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas produced by burning gas, wood, propane, charcoal or other fuel. Improperly ventilated appliances and engines, particularly in enclosed spaces, may allow carbon monoxide to build up to dangerous levels and cause harm to homeowners or employees.
Exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) may be due to the negligence of a small engine operator, defective gas detectors, or workplace management failing to properly ventilate a workspace that has one or more engines running. Employees may fall ill due to toxic exposure, and although most cases of carbon monoxide injuries and poisoning are mild, some serious complications may result.
Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Cincinnati, Ohio Toxic Tort and Personal Injury Attorney, representing plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of civil litigation claims.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Some people exposed to CO may feel as if they have the flu, but without a fever. If multiple people in the same building have the same symptoms, CO poisoning should be suspected and all gas cooking and heating appliances should be turned off, all windows opened, and safety authorities notified. The longer individuals are exposed to carbon monoxide, the more severe the symptoms. Within the first few hours of exposure, a person may experience the following:
- Memory problems
- Dull headache
- Shortness of breath
- Blurred vision
- Loss of consciousness
Usually the symptoms are mild, and there is a full recovery if exposure to the gas is identified and stopped. However, symptoms may occur much later after inhaling CO gas, including:
- Memory problems
- Coordination difficulties
Severe CO gas poisoning may cause long-term health problems that may include:
- Heart damage (coronary heart disease)
- Brain damage—acute carbon monoxide poisoning may result in irreversible neurological effects like a progressive worsening of memory and concentration. Rare cases of CO poisoning have been linked with the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
- Urinary incontinence
- Carbon monoxide exposure can be dangerous during pregnancy for both the mother and the developing fetus. Pregnant women and babies are more susceptible.
Potential Sources of Carbon Monoxide Exposure
If household appliances are well-serviced and used safely, they should produce only negligible quantities of gas. Failing to service old appliances may lead to a higher risk of CO exposure. Appliances such as gas fireplaces, boilers, central heating systems, water heaters, and gas cookers may be possible sources of carbon monoxide. Other sources may include the following:
- Running car engines in enclosed spaces—leaving a car in a closed garage with its engine running can produce deadly amounts of CO within 10 minutes.
- Generators and propulsion engines on houseboats
- Other vehicle exhausts
- Fuel burning furnaces
- Coal burning power plants
- Small gasoline engines
- Portable generators
- Gas Grills
- Fire places
- Charcoal grills
- Marine engines
- Propane-powered heaters
- Gas water heaters
- Kerosene heaters
- Blocked flues and chimneys
- Fumes from paint removers and cleaning fluids
Carbon Monoxide Injuries and Exposure Prevention Guidelines
To keep a safe household or workplace, it is important to be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has offered some basic guidelines to prevent CO gas leakage to protect homeowners and workers. The following can help reduce the risks associated with CO exposure:
- Keep gas appliances in good working order, and use them safely
- Do not operate gasoline-powered engines or tools inside buildings or in partially enclosed areas
- Do not use gas ranges or ovens for heating purposes
- Make sure all rooms of a house or workplace are well-ventilated and that vents are unobstructed
- Have chimneys and flues regularly swept
- Wear a mask when using products that contain methylene chloride—methylene chloride turns into CO when it is inhaled
- Do not leave gasoline-powered motors running in a garage (motorbikes, cars, or lawn mowers)
- Do not use charcoal on an indoor barbecue
- Do not use a generator within 20 feet of a window, door or air intake
- Service motor exhaust pipes on a motor vehicle regularly
- Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms at home and workplaces
If you or a loved one has suffered from Carbon Monoxide injuries or Poisoning at home or the workplace, and have questions about the legal remedies available to improve quality of life and medical care, contact The Lyon Firm at (800) 513-2403. You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, and he will help you answer critical questions regarding Carbon monoxide injuries.