Carbon Monoxide Headquarters


Carbon Monoxide


Some Historical Highlights:

"Coal fumes lead to heavy head and death" - First mention of the lethal effects of coal fumes --- Aristotle, Greece, 3rd century B.C.

Inhabitants of Nuceria killed by CO suffocation in the bath --- Hannibal, Carthage, 247-183 B.C.

Coal fumes were used for suicide and execution --- Cicero, Rome, 106-43 B.C.; suicide of Roman author Seneca, 65 A.D.

A combustible gas that burned with a bright blue flame described --- Joseph Priestley, England, 1772

First clinical description of coal gas poisoning --- Harmant, France, 1775

CO identified as the toxic substance in coal gas --- LeBlanc, France, 1842

Shown that CO produces hypoxia by reversible combination with hemoglobin --- Claude Bernard, France, 1857

Demonstration that rats survive CO poisoning when placed in oxygen at 2 atmosphers pressure --- John Scott Haldane, England, 1895

Polar explorer Richard Byrd nearly loses life as result of chronic CO poisoning --- early 20th century

611 CO-related deaths occur in New York City from use of illuminating gas --- 1927

Treatment of CO poisoning with Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBO) in experimental animals --- End & Long, U.S., 1942

First clinical use of HBO therapy in CO poisoning --- Smith & Sharp, 1960

International tennis star Vitas Gerulaitus loses life in CO accident involving a pool heater, September, 1994

Use as euthanasia agent by medical suicide advocate, Jack Kevorkian, M.D. --- 1990s


Note: It has been suggested based on his writings that the famous American author, Edgar Allan Poe (above, right), was chronically poisoned by carbon monoxide, probably contained in illuminating gas. Poe died November 17, 1875, 32 years of age.


...... last changed 12/16/01



For More History

See excerpts from the Geo. A. Burrell's article, publ. 1912

See excerpts from the S.A.K. Wilson Neurology book, publ. 1940

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