The National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) have reported two people every day are presenting with symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. However they also suggest this figure could be much higher, due to the variation in how data regarding CO exposures is recorded and reported.

In a six-year project, which has been funded by the CO Research Trust, the NPIS has collected data on 4323 enquiries from healthcare professionals treating CO poisoned patients in all four UK nations.

This data is unique as it includes information on clinical parameters including biomarkers, poisoning severity and the source and location of the exposure, which is not traditionally included in other epidemiological studies using coded hospital data. It includes admitted patients, patients presenting to emergency departments who are discharged without admission and those assessed in the community who have not attended a hospital.

However the data from this study only represents cases where health professionals have contacted the NPIS for clinical management advice. The true incidence of CO poisoning in the UK is likely to be significantly greater.

Dr Daniela Gentile, who has been leading the study at NPIS said. “Minor exposures where the patient does not present for assessment or a clinician does not require NPIS advice are not included. Similarly, severe exposures resulting in out of hospital deaths are also not included. The true picture is likely to be a much higher number of people who are being exposed to CO. However, the data from the NPIS study gives greater detail relating to exposures which provides more context to the incident.”

For example, reports were received involving all age groups but most frequently involving children and adults aged 20-39 years. The exposures most commonly occurred at home as a result of faulty boilers.

Where the information was volunteered, activation of a CO alarm was reported in 20.8% of cases. The majority of these cases were associated with mild or no symptoms at all.

Head of Charitable Operations Adrian McConnell said. “This project has delivered data which allows us to see who is being exposed to CO and what is causing the most number of exposures. This information is critical if we are to work towards preventing and protecting people from further CO exposures in the future.”

Euan Sandilands, Director of the Edinburgh unit of the NPIS will be presenting the findings of the project in more detail on Thursday 20th January at 3pm.

To register to join this webinar please sign up here -

- Ends -

Notes to editors

About the CO Research Trust

The CO Research Trust (formerly the Gas Safety Trust) is a registered charity which was established in 2005. The vision of the charity is a world where people are not exposed to carbon monoxide (CO).

For more information please contact;

Natalie Fleck

CO Research Trust

Follow us: @COResearchTrust

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