Much CO poisoning remains undetected, claims report
Reporting of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in the UK is massively underestimating the problem, according to the Gas Safety Trust.
It claims in a new report that official CO incident figures relating to gas used for heating and cooking in residential applications do not reveal the true picture of how vulnerable UK householders are to low-level exposure from this harmful gas.
'While deaths and serious injuries are relatively straightforward to record since they derive from statutory investigations, such 'tip of the iceberg' data does not reveal the extent of what might be termed as 'near misses',' commented Mary Benwell, chairwoman of the Gas Safety Trust.
'The records do not capture information about the number of people who are unwittingly exposed to low levels of CO poisoning; levels that may cause long-term ill health but go undetected,' she added.
The Carbon Monoxide Hotspot Report identifies Symptom 'Blur' - a combination of key factors such as lack of CO symptom awareness and misdiagnosis - as a major area for concern.
It says: 'With its non-specific and wide-ranging symptoms, from nausea to headaches, it is easy for CO poisoning... to be confused with other illnesses and therefore go undetected, resulting in the under-reporting of the problem.'
To combat this, it calls for routine CO testing at post mortem and research with GP surgeries and other frontline heath practitioners to investigate levels of undiagnosed exposure.
The key objective of the Gas Safety Trust charity is to improve gas safety for the public and industry in the UK.
For further information, visit www.gas-safety-trust.org.uk
13 October 2010