Journal Article
Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning from Portable Electrical Generators.

BACKGROUND: Portable electrical generators have been responsible for over 800 accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning deaths in the United States from 1999-2012.

OBJECTIVES: Because mortality figures are typically the only data reported with regard to the adverse effects of generators, we describe a nonfatal segment of the poisoned population to further emphasize the significance of the problem.

METHODS: Unidentifiable information about patients treated in the United States with hyperbaric oxygen for acute CO poisoning was prospectively reported by participating centers. Those patients poisoned by portable generators were selected for analysis.

RESULTS: Of 1604 patients reported from August 1, 2008 to July 31, 2011, there were 264 accidentally poisoned by portable generators. Exposures occurred in 151 incidents in 33 states. In 99 incidents, poisoning occurred in a residence. Average patient age was 37 ± 20 years (range 1 to 90+ years). Of those poisoned, 146 (55%) were non-Hispanic white, 57 (22%) were black, 52 (20%) were Hispanic white, 4 (2%) were Asian, and 4 (2%) were Native American. English was spoken by 96%. The most common symptoms included headache (62%), dizziness (52%), and loss of consciousness (50%). Blood carboxyhemoglobin levels averaged 22.7 ± 9.0% (range 2.3-48.3%). Thirty-six patients demonstrated evidence of cardiac ischemia.

CONCLUSIONS: Acute, severe CO poisoning from portable electric generators is common in the United States, likely affecting an estimated 4000 individuals annually, occurring predominantly in residential settings, and affecting English language-speaking individuals.

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