Health & Lifestyle

Carbon monoxide deaths are climbing, placing households in peril: ‘My son is fortunate to be alive’

Often dubbed “the silent killer,” carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless — it’s been proven to trigger extreme harm or loss of life in hours and even minutes.

Between 2009 and 2019, deaths from non-fire-related carbon monoxide poisoning have been on the rise, in line with a brand new report launched by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) final month.

There had been 250 deaths associated to client merchandise in 2019, greater than in some other yr within the report.

Some 40% of these deaths had been attributable to engine-driven instruments, together with mills, energy washers and garden mowers. 


Heating techniques had been behind one other 28% of the deaths, the report stated.

‘Something you’d by no means anticipate to occur’

Kristie Dusenberry, a mom and grandmother who lives along with her household on a farm in American Falls, Idaho, is aware of all too effectively the devastating impacts of carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Her 21-year-old son, Brenden Dusenberry, almost died lately when fumes crammed his small condo.

About 4 months in the past, her son had moved to Iowa, the place he was dwelling in an condo above his uncle’s storage. 

“He was enthusiastic about dwelling nearer to buddies and had began a brand new job,” Dusenberry advised Fox News Digital in an interview.

When a number of members of the family tried to name Dusenberry’s son over the weekend, nobody was in a position to attain him. 

Brenden Dusenberry split

Brenden Dusenberry, 21, from Idaho almost died lately when fumes crammed his small condo. He remains to be recovering.  (Kristie Dusenberry)

Around midnight on Sunday, Dusenberry acquired a name from her niece, who additionally lives on the home.

“She stated Brenden was on the ground within the rest room, couldn’t really feel his left aspect and was throwing up,” she stated. “No one had seen or heard from him for greater than 24 hours.”

When first responders arrived, they suspected carbon monoxide poisoning. Tests confirmed dangerously excessive ranges within the room the place Dusenberry’s son was discovered.

“They did say that each one the carbon monoxide is gone — however all of the injury it induced shouldn’t be.”

Over the subsequent few hours, Dusenberry slowly pieced collectively what had occurred. 

Her son had gotten very sick over the course of the day, then awoke in the course of the night time with extreme thirst. When he tried to get away from bed, his complete left aspect had gone fully numb.

“Brenden fell and hit his head on a dresser, then tumbled down the steps to the toilet, and that is the place they discovered him,” Dusenberry defined.

Brenden Dusenberry - with family and in hospital

Brenden Dusenberry, 21, is pictured along with his siblings (left). He’s proven within the hospital after he was poisoned by carbon monoxide (proper). (Kristie Dusenberry)

The supply of the fumes was a brand new heater for the outside swimming pool, which had simply been attached and was saved within the storage beneath the room the place Dusenberry’s son was dwelling. 

Something had malfunctioned with the heater — inflicting carbon monoxide to fill the air.

One of the docs advised Dusenberry that carbon monoxide is lighter than air.

“It really floats and might undergo sheet rock, or by any crack within the wall,” she stated.

‘Lucky to be alive’

While Dusenberry realizes her son is fortunate to be alive, she worries about his lengthy and unsure street to restoration.

“Brenden’s coronary heart shouldn’t be absolutely working proper now,” she advised Fox News Digital. “His lungs had been infected when he acquired to the hospital, and he needed to be put in a hyperbaric chamber to extend his oxygen ranges.”


Hyperbaric oxygen remedy is typically used ​​for individuals who have average to extreme carbon monoxide poisoning as a way of lowering the long-term cognitive results. That’s in line with Dr. Kelly Johnson-Arbor, medical toxicologist and co-medical director on the National Capital Poison Center in Washington, D.C.

“People who’ve confusion, coronary heart rhythm abnormalities or different proof of coronary heart injury, and different critical indicators or signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, are potential candidates for hyperbaric oxygen remedy,” she advised Fox News Digital.

Brenden Dusenberry in hospital

Brenden Dusenberry, 21, who skilled carbon monoxide poisoning simply final week, will get some bodily remedy within the hospital. (Kristie Dusenberry)

The docs additionally realized that Dusenberry’s son’s kidneys weren’t functioning accurately, which meant he needed to obtain dialysis therapies.

“Brenden additionally has nerve injury on the left aspect of his physique, and the docs stated it might take as much as a yr earlier than he can use his left arm once more,” Dusenberry stated. 

“He nonetheless can’t stroll, and he can’t hold any meals or fluids down.”

She added, “They did say that each one the carbon monoxide is gone — however all of the injury it induced shouldn’t be.”

How carbon monoxide impacts the physique

Dr. Dung Trinh, a mind well being knowledgeable and proprietor of The Healthy Brain Clinic in Long Beach, California, stated probably the most harmful outcomes of carbon monoxide poisoning can embrace loss of life, everlasting organ injury and long-term neurological results. 

“Carbon monoxide is a poisonous fuel that may bind to hemoglobin within the blood, lowering its capacity to hold oxygen, resulting in tissue hypoxia and injury to very important organs,” he advised Fox News Digital through e mail.


In instances the place carbon monoxide poisoning is deadly, Trinh stated the particular reason behind loss of life is commonly associated to extreme tissue hypoxia (low ranges of oxygen within the tissues) and injury to the mind, coronary heart or lungs, which might result in respiratory failure, cardiac arrest or different life-threatening problems.

Each yr, carbon monoxide poisoning claims no less than 420 lives. 

The results of carbon monoxide poisoning can range, relying on the severity of the publicity and particular person elements, the physician defined.

“In some instances, with immediate and applicable medical remedy, the results could also be reversible, whereas in different instances, they might be everlasting,” he stated.

Certain individuals could also be at the next threat of dying or not recovering absolutely from carbon monoxide poisoning, similar to infants, aged people, pregnant ladies and people with pre-existing respiratory or cardiac circumstances, the physician stated.

Long-term cognitive results

Those who survive carbon monoxide poisoning might expertise opposed long-term results. 

“These can embrace neurological signs like reminiscence issues, problem concentrating and temper adjustments, in addition to respiratory and cardiac points, relying on the severity and period of publicity,” Trinh stated.

Dawn Quintana

Dawn Quintana, 56, proven right here, skilled carbon monoxide poisoning at her office in 2013. She nonetheless experiences cognitive deficits right this moment. (Dawn Quintana)

Dawn Quintana, a 56-year-old former IT employee in Lake Point, Utah, skilled carbon monoxide poisoning at her office in 2013, when equipment was getting used inside with all of the doorways and home windows closed.


After repeated day by day publicity — 10 hours a day, 5 days every week, for 90 days — Quintana was often experiencing extreme flu-like signs and misplaced her sense of style. 

When she was lastly examined on the hospital, her ranges of publicity had been dangerously excessive.

To today, even after seven years of remedy, Quintana nonetheless experiences the lingering cognitive results of carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Carbon monoxide poisoning is a medical emergency and requires immediate medical intervention.”

“Sometimes I do know what I wish to say, nevertheless it would not come out,” she advised Fox News Digital in an e mail. 

She additionally struggles with studying: “I can have a look at one thing and skim it silently simply high-quality, but when I attempt to learn out loud, the letters begin to fall away from the web page and the left aspect of the web page goes clean.”

Quintana has not been in a position to return to work. She can now not have a look at pc screens with out getting dizzy and nauseated. Her relationships with family and friends have suffered.

“The battle that I am going by day by day — the lack of dignity — I’d not want it upon my worst enemy,” she stated.

Safeguarding towards carbon monoxide poisoning

Each yr, carbon monoxide poisoning claims the lives of no less than 420 individuals and sends greater than 100,000 individuals to emergency rooms within the U.S. annually, in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Carbon monoxide detectors might be bought for roughly $20.”

The excellent news is that it’s 100% preventable.

“Some methods for security and precaution towards carbon monoxide poisoning embrace common upkeep and inspection of fuel-burning home equipment, correct air flow in enclosed areas, utilizing carbon monoxide detectors and avoiding the usage of fuel-burning home equipment indoors or in enclosed areas with out correct air flow,” Trinh stated.

Carbon monoxide detectors can save lives

You might not be capable of see, scent or style carbon monoxide — however a working carbon monoxide detector can allow you to “hear” it, stated Johnson-Arbor.

“Carbon monoxide detectors might be bought for [about] $20 at big-box retailers, house enchancment shops and even on Amazon,” she advised Fox News Digital.

Carbon monoxide detector

Residential carbon monoxide detectors might be plugged into {an electrical} outlet or might be hard-wired into a house’s electrical system. (iStock)

Residential carbon monoxide detectors might be plugged into {an electrical} outlet or might be hard-wired into a house’s electrical system, Johnson-Arbor stated.  

Experts suggest having a carbon monoxide detector put in inside 10 ft of each sleeping space.

“Because carbon monoxide poisoning may cause extreme sleepiness, it’s vital to have a detector put in inside 10 ft of each sleeping space of your property,” she stated. 

Additionally, she recommends bringing a transportable carbon monoxide detector when touring, as a result of some resorts or trip leases might not have them put in.


For plug-in detectors, the batteries ought to be changed each six months or after any extended energy outage.

“Never ignore an alarming carbon monoxide detector,” Johnson-Arbor added. “These gadgets can save your life.”

Year-round menace — not simply in winter

While many individuals affiliate carbon monoxide poisoning as a threat throughout the winter months resulting from malfunctioning furnaces and lack of air flow, precautions ought to be taken year-round, warned Johnson-Arbor.

“During the summer time months, individuals might be poisoned by carbon monoxide from defective swimming pool heaters, indoor use of barbecue grills, gas-powered garments dryers and different tools,” she advised Fox News Digital.

If you think a case of carbon monoxide poisoning, it’s essential to instantly evacuate the affected space and search medical consideration immediately, Trinh stated. 

“Carbon monoxide poisoning is a medical emergency and requires immediate medical intervention,” he added.

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