Death by CO in Fire and non-Fire Situations:



This site is devoted to issues of death resulting from carbon monoxide poisoning in fire and non-fire situations. Therefore, exposure involves high or ultra-high air CO levels, in all cases lethal concentrations of CO. The sources of the CO can involve combustion (ie. fire) to which the victim is directly exposed, or may simply involve the concentrated products of combustion emanating from an unvented heater, an internal combustion engine, an explosion, etc. As noted below, when fire is the cause of death, other products of combustion may also play a prominent role in the lethal event. Also see the section CO Dangers

While the end-point of such scenarios is death, victims experience many/most of the symptoms of CO poisoning prior to death presented elsewhere. Of the many characteristics seen after death (skin color, state of rigor mortis, evidence of vomiting, etc.), the blood level of CO (ie. carboxyhemoglobin saturation), is the most important to forensic pathologists, the police, and research investigators in establishing that CO poisoning was the cause of death.



  • Fire Situations:
  • Causes of Death in Fire

    Complete vs. Incomplete Combustion

    The Combustion Process: Results

    Oxygen Depletion


  • Non-Fire Situations (acutely high CO conc's):
  • Incapacitation from Carbon Monxide

    Role of Alcohol (Ethanol) in CO Lethality

    Death from Unvented Gas Heaters: A Case Series

    Survival vs. Death in CO Poisoning: A Polish Study

    Dangers of Small Engine Exhaust in Confined Spaces

    CO Uptake

    The Coburn-Forster-Kane Equation

    Killing Doses of CO: How to Compute

    The Meigs' Acute CO Poisoning Study

    CO-Effects Plots (Caution Unreliable!)



    ...... Last changed 03/24/02


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