All About Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

By Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.


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Carbon monoxide poisoning is a silent killer. It has no distinct odor, color, or taste, so there’s no way to know it is around unless you feel sick or a carbon monoxide detector goes off. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning range from headaches, nausea, vomiting, confusion, memory loss, disorientation, balance problems, and dizziness.

Brain damage can worsen in the days and weeks following the incident. Delayed neurological sequelae (DNS) can result in any number of neurological or behavioral symptoms, such as memory loss, confusion, seizures, urinary incontinence, loss of bowel function, disorientation, hallucinations, psychosis, balance problems and dizziness.

Brain damage can occur in particularly vulnerable parts of the brain such as the hippocampus or the corpus callosum. Carbon monoxide robs the body of oxygen and leaves a toxin behind. The hippocampus, which transfers information into long term memory, is located at the end of the oxygen cycle to the brain, putting it most at risk of damage. The corpus callosum connects the left and right hemispheres, and is also located deep in the brain.

Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when a fuel burning appliance, such as a hot water heater, oven, or furnace, is not ventilating or maintained properly. It can happen in any enclosed space, such as a garage, a home, restaurant, hotel room, or airplane. When this happens, the installing contractor and/or the contractor responsible for maintaining the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system has committed a life-threatening negligence action. in all likelihood, the building owner will also face some responsibility.

As the temperatures drop and furnaces fire up, the season for carbon monoxide poisoning arises. While you are enjoying summer, you will not notice if there is a problem with your furnace until you fire it up in the winter. This is why it is important to have your furnace checked by a qualified professional once a year. Here are some examples of cold-weather carbon monoxide poisonings:

A carbon monoxide poisoning occurred in a Waukegan two-flat. The furnace malfunctioned releasing carbon monoxide levels as high as 2,000 ppm in the utility room. The firefighters evacuated the home, including one conscious adult, one conscious one, and one child. All of the inhabitants survived, but their medical conditions were no doubt serious. You may view the blog here:

A Springfield, Mass. hotel also had a carbon monoxide poisoning incident. Two floors, approximately 50 guests, were evacuated due to deadly levels of the toxic gas, which were as high as 3,000 ppm. The source of the carbon monoxide poisoning was a faulty boiler, which released dangerous levels of the gas. This is why it’s so important to keep carbon monoxide alarms in sleeping areas. You may view the blog here:

A Sedona, Arizona carbon monoxide poisoning sickened an entire family due to a faulty furnace. In the wake of this, the Sedona fire district promoted keeping a carbon monoxide alarm in the home, which is not yet required by law in Arizona. The carbon monoxide levels were highest around the furnace and adjacent bedrooms. The firefighter’s gas meters confirmed that it was carbon monoxide. You may view the blog here:



Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

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