What are the racial predilections of carbon monoxide (CO) toxicity?

Updated: Sep 18, 2018
  • Author: Guy N Shochat, MD; Chief Editor: Gil Z Shlamovitz, MD, FACEP  more...
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All ages, ethnic populations, and social groups are affected, yet particular groups may be at higher risk.

  • Earlier data stated that, for unintentional fatalities, race-specific death rates were 20% higher for blacks. More recent data reveal non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks to have equally high death rates, significantly above that of Hispanic and those classified as Other. [15]

  • Conversely, intentional fatalities demonstrate that race-specific rates for blacks and other minority racial groups are 87% lower than for whites, revealing a cultural partiality to this form of suicide.

Two North American studies, from the 1990s and 2005, examined the incidence of CO toxicity from indoor heating devices used during severe winter storms. Both studies identified a strong association between CO toxicity and US immigrants who were non-English speaking. [16] However, a study of acute, severe CO poisoning from portable electric generators in the US from August 1, 2008 to July 31, 2011 found that 96% of patients spoke English. [4]

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