Capital News Service

of the Michigan State University School of Journalism

Carbon monoxide still claims lives in Michigan


Capital News Service

LANSING—Carbon monoxide was the second most-frequent hazardous substance that injured Michigan residents in 2008, the Department of Community Health (DCH) said.

In 2008, 35 people died from carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the DCH.  In 2006 it was 48 and in 2005 it was 38, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CO poisoning causes 400 deaths a year in the U.S., according to the CDC.

Symptoms include fatigue, headache, nausea, shortness of breath and dizziness.

Walt Maner, a consultant to the Michigan Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors Association, said, “The recent drops in CO poisoning deaths could be that products are getting better” at detecting CO.

“I don’t know if people are maintaining their furnaces better than they used to but I think technology has something to do with it,” he said.

Anything that burns fuels can cause CO poisoning, said Jon Paradine, a senior mechanical inspector in the mechanical division of the Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth.

Maner said,“If natural gas doesn’t burn efficiently, anything that burns carbon monoxide can leak.”

Paradine said, “There is no code to get a furnace checked every year. Manufacturers suggest furnaces be inspected but there is no requirement whatsoever to maintain them.”

Jennifer Kosak, senior environmental health specialist with the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department, has been trying to put together a stronger program to educate and protect the public.

She said her department is seeking grants to address CO problems in local homes.  That would include providing detectors and equipment.

“CO affects people differently, and some of it may be due to better testing of blood levels,” said Kosak. “Now we can detect CO to such low limits, but what’s harmful and what’s not?”

Michael Krecek, director and health officer of the Midland County Public Health Department, said, his office works with local building inspectors to educate people to be more aware of CO, making sure places like day care centers and restaurants are properly ventilated.

© 2010, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Not to be reproduced without permission.



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