• 2019 saw the highest number of consumer product related CO poisoning deaths, as per a report
  • Portable generators have been linked to more than 700 non-fire CO deaths since 2009
  • Authorities are urging the public to take precautions against CO poisoning

There has been an upward trend in deaths from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, with engine-driven tools (EDT) like generators being behind the largest percentage of deaths from the "invisible killer" in 2019 alone.

There was evidence of a "statistically significant upward trend" in non-fire CO poisoning deaths from 2009 to 2019, according to a new report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Specifically, the number of consumer product-related CO deaths in 2019 was said to be greater than "any other year" in the report, logging 168 incidents and 250 unintentional non-fire CO poisoning deaths.

By comparison, the estimated number of non-fire CO poisoning deaths associated with consumer products back in 2009 was 148. The numbers increased in the next two years and then decreased in 2012. But it rose again in 2013, after which the rates continued to increase for the next seven years until 2019.

EDTs accounted for the largest percentage of non-fire CO poisoning deaths in 2019. These tools include consumer items like generators — the product that has been associated with the highest number of deaths.

"Just under half (118 or 47%) of the estimated 250 deaths associated with consumer products involved an EDT," the report noted, pertaining to the 2019 data. "One hundred of the 118 estimated EDT-associated deaths involved generators."

Since 2009, some 765 non-fire CO poisoning deaths have been linked to portable generators, the CPSC noted in a release. This means that it was behind some 40% of all CO deaths associated with consumer products.

As the CPSC previously warned, one portable generator is able to produce as much CO "as hundreds of cars."

Heating systems accounted for the second largest percentage of non-fire CO poisoning deaths in 2019, while heating appliances were said to be behind 28% (69) of the deaths.

Sadly, 75% of the CO deaths in 2019 happened due to exposure at home. Most of the victims (77%) were male.

Indeed, carbon monoxide has been dubbed the "invisible killer" because of the quick and silent way that it may lead to poisoning or even death. It is colorless and odorless and can kill an individual within minutes. In some cases, people may fall unconscious even before recognizing the symptoms, the CPSC noted.

Everyone is at risk for CO poisoning, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But the elderly, infants and those with certain conditions like chronic heart disease are more likely to get sick from CO exposure.

"Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning not linked to fires, more than 100,000 visit the emergency room and more than 14,000 are hospitalized," the CDC noted.

With the results of the report highlighting the role of consumer products in non-fire CO poisoning deaths, the CPSC is urging the public to take extra precautions when using these associated products.

It also reminded the public of the importance of installing CO Alarms "on every level of the home and outside sleeping areas." It's important to test the alarms each month to make sure that they're still working.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning And Prevention
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning And Prevention