Tracking carbon monoxide poisoning to better understand how people are poisoned.

Author:Shin, Mikyong

On an evening in December 2014, a teenager passed out after finishing a hockey game in Lake Delton, Wisconsin. Other players and spectators reported headaches, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. Local emergency response staff were contacted and they conducted an air quality test upon arrival at the ice arena. The test revealed dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide (CO). Response staff worked with four area hospitals to triage people for appropriate care. In total, 92 people were seen, with two individuals requiring hyperbaric oxygen treatment (Vogt, Christenson, Olson, & Creswell, 2015).

Tracking CO Poisoning Mortality and Morbidity

By tracking cases of CO poisoning and investigating their causes, public health findings have provided information to inform the development of laws and regulations. These developments include requiring CO detectors in new homes and other structures; engineering solutions to reduce the amount of CO emitted by appliances; and health education campaigns to promote CO detector use, regular maintenance of appliances, and proper use of generators following a power outage.

For decades, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local health departments have seen a critical need for public health solutions to CO poisoning. In 2013, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists updated its CO poisoning position statement. They recommended CDC collect data on CO poisoning cases reported to state and local health departments, summarize it, and publish a national summary of CO poisoning (Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, 2013).

Planning and implementing this collection of data required the joint expertise of two programs at CDC's National Center for Environmental Health, Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects. CO poisoning mortality and morbidity surveillance is a collaboration between the Air Pollution and Respiratory Health Branch (APRHB) and the Environmental Health Tracking Branch. APRHB provides subject matter expertise in quantifying, investigating, and preventing CO poisoning through behavioral education (CDC, 2016a). The Tracking Branch guides surveillance activities and provides a platform for displaying the CO poisoning data. This platform, the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network (Tracking Network), is a multitiered, web-based system of integrated health, exposure, and hazard information and data with components at national, state, and local levels. CO poisoning is one of the content areas included on the Tracking Network.

CO Poisoning Data

Working with APRHB and state and local partners, the Tracking Branch developed uniform case...

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