02 May 2018


House of Lords

Chris Bielby, ICORN launch
Chris Bielby, ICORN launch

Following the International Conference on carbon monoxide risk assessment and risk management, which took place in Canada in 2016, participants agreed to create a network to facilitate collaboration and knowledge-sharing between researchers and other stakeholders. This led to the foundation of ICORN (International Carbon Monoxide Research Network).

In England and Wales, the Department of Health estimates that around 30 people die from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning each year, whilst 200 are admitted to hospital and 4,000 go to emergency rooms requiring treatment. Similarly in the United States, according to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), there are 450 fatalities, 4,000 hospitalisations and circa 20,000 emergency department visits as a result of CO poisoning each year.

However, it is broadly agreed that these numbers are grossly underestimated due to the challenges in diagnosing CO poisoning – e.g. the similarly of its symptoms to other common illnesses and the limitations of carboxyhemoglobin (COHb), the main biomarker used for confirming CO poisoning. COHb levels quickly reduce when the patient is removed from the source of CO.

The CDC estimate that accidental, non-fire related CO poisoning in the United States accounts for over $1.3 billion annually in societal costs, whilst a report produced by the All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group (APPCOG) in the UK, puts the cost at £178 million annually.

ICORN’s focus is on improving peoples’ safety, health and well-being through research, technology and innovation. This is done by:

  • Producing evidence and data for regulators and policymakers.
  • Promoting the adoption of emerging technologies.
  • Facilitating global collaboration between experts.

As part of its ongoing commitment to advancing the cause of carbon monoxide research, ICORN proposes to hold a virtual annual conference, where researchers and other stakeholders can meet with their peers globally. This week-long series of afternoon lectures and workshops will provide a collaborative space for knowledge-sharing and project initiation.

This event was sponsored by the Gas Safety Trust and celebrates the launch of ICORN.