DefinitionAnnual number or rate of Emergency Department visits for unintentional carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning for New Jersey residents by county, and cause/intent (fire, non-fire or unknown). ICD-9 discharge diagnoses codes used through September 2015 were: E890.0-E899.9 for fire-related poisoning; E800-E848.0, E850-E869.9, E880-E888.9, E900-E928.9 for non-fire poisoning; and E986 for unknown. Beginning October 2015 onward, ICD-10 code T58 was used (with exclusions for intentional and additional coding for fire and non-fire subcategories).
NumeratorNumber of Emergency Department visits due to unintentional CO poisoning occurring among residents of a specific geographic area within a specified time period.
DenominatorFor rates, estimated population of a specific geographic area in a specified time period.
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 2014 and 2018, emergency department visit rates due to unintentional CO poisoning have averaged 0.16 per 100,000 persons from fire-related causes, 4.9 per 100,000 persons from non-fire related causes (e.g. fumes from improperly ventilated heaters, furnaces or motor vehicles) and 1.8 per 100,000 persons from unknown causes per 100,000 persons. Most of the cases are attributable to non-fire-related causes.
What Is Being Done?The New Jersey 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 on these web sites: