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Every year, about 170 people in the United States die from non-automotive carbon monoxide poisoning, and about 15,000 visit an emergency room. Many of these injuries and deaths could be prevented with carbon monoxide detectors or adequate maintenance of furnaces, boilers, generators, and other heating systems.

UPDATE: $28 Million Awarded in Wyoming Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Lawsuit

October 27, 2014 — A record-setting $28 million has been awarded to a 23 year-old woman who had brain damage from a carbon monoxide leak at her apartment complex. Click here to read more.

June 23, 2014 — Federal safety officials are investigating a carbon monoxide leak on the 2011-2014 Ford Explorer SUV. Click here to read more.

June 4, 2014 — $1.3 million has been awarded to 4 Texas oil rig electricians who nearly died after they were trapped in a room that was flooded with carbon monoxide by another crew working on the fire-safety system. Click here to read more.

December 4, 2012 — Carbon monoxide leak at an Atlanta elementary school sends 42 students and 6 staff members to the hospital. Click here to read more.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that is produced by the incomplete burning of fuel, including coal, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, propane, and natural gas. CO is also produced by engines on portable generators, cars, lawn mowers, and more.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is poisonous when breathed because it replaces oxygen in your bloodstream, which deprives your heart, brain, and other vital organs of the oxygen they need to survive. Inhaling large amounts of CO can cause loss of consciousness within minutes, leading to suffocation and death within an hour.


Symptoms typically become noticeable as carbon monoxide levels increase and remain above 70 parts per million (ppm). The first symptoms are usually headache, fatigue, and nausea. Levels above 150 to 200 ppm may cause loss of muscle control, disorientation, unconsciousness, and death.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Sudden chest pain
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Muscle weakness

Brain Damage

One of the most serious side effects of carbon monoxide poisoning is brain damage. For every minute the brain is deprived of oxygen, millions of brain cells die. This damage is irreversible and can lead to problems with memory loss, confusion, processing speed, multi-tasking, attention-span, chronic headaches, trouble sleeping, and more.

Record-Setting Carbon Monoxide Jury Award in Wyoming

October 2014 — The Billings Gazette reports that a federal judge has upheld a $28.2 million jury award to a 23 year-old woman from Casper, Wyoming. She suffered permanent brain damage after surviving a carbon monoxide leak from the furnace at her apartment complex. Levels of carbon monoxide were detected at 500 ppm. Click here to read more.

Baltimore Jury Awards $35 Million to Victims of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

July 2010 — The Daily Record reports that a jury in Baltimore has awarded $34 million to 20 workers at a Ruth’s Chris Steak House who were poisoned by carbon monoxide exhaust from boilers, which could have been prevented if the walls were properly sealed. Levels of carbon monoxide were 700 ppm when firefighters arrived.

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