DefinitionNumber or rate of deaths due to unintentional carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from fire, non-fire or unknown causes in a specific geographic area within a specified time period.
NumeratorNumber of deaths due to unintentional CO poisoning occurring among residents of a specific geographic area within a specified year.
DenominatorFor rates, estimated population of a specific geographic area in a specified time period (using mid-year population estimates).
Why Is This Important?Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless and odorless poisonous gas produced by the incomplete burning of solid, liquid and gaseous fuels. Unintentional CO exposure to people most frequently occurs due to improper ventilation, and or inhalation of exhaust fumes from vehicles, generators, gas furnaces or heaters. CO poisoning can also occur in combination with smoke inhalation and burns during residential fires.
While most CO poisoning can be prevented, every year more than 500 Americans die as a result of exposure to this toxic gas. Thousands of Americans annually need to get medical care for non-fatal CO poisonings. Symptoms of CO exposure may include: headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness and confusion. At high levels, CO poisoning causes loss of consciousness and death. Survivors of severe poisoning may suffer long-term neurological problems. CO poisoning can be prevented by the installation of CO detectors/alarms and the proper maintenance of heating systems.
How Are We Doing?Between 2000 and 2019, death rates due to unintentional CO poisoning (and CO poisoning of unknown intent) have shown variation between 0 to 0.14 per 100,000 residents across all events (fire, non-fire and unknown intent).
What Is Being Done?The NJ Division of Consumer Affairs in the Office of the Attorney General provides guidance on the prevention of carbon monoxide poisoning on their web site:
Health Program InformationThe U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a variety of important information on the prevention of CO poisoning: