How does carbon monoxide (CO) cause smoke inhalation injury?

Updated: Oct 15, 2021
  • Author: Keith A Lafferty, MD; Chief Editor: Joe Alcock, MD, MS  more...
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Individual cases of CO poisoning can occur under many circumstances (eg, furnace malfunction, motor vehicle exhaust exposure). Multiple cases may occur after large-scale disasters that result in widespread, long-term power outages (eg, major hurricanes), where the residential use of portable gas generators in poorly ventilated areas creates the ideal situation for CO poisoning. In a study evaluating unintentional CO poisoning of Florida state residents from 1999-2007, 89% of all CO poisoning-related deaths were non–fire related. [26]

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