This paper describes the epidemiology of unintentional carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in Northwest Iran between 2003 and 2008. Data were obtained from the records of the main provider of emergency medical transportation and from death certificate reports of the Legal Medicine Organization. During the study period, a total of 3078 hospital admissions were recorded against which 346 deaths were due to unintentional CO related poisoning caused by gas appliances in the homes. The ratio of unintentional CO related poisoning cases in relation to all poisonings was 11.6%. With regard to gender differences, non-fatal CO poisoning was higher in females than males, whereas actual fatalities were higher in males than females. Non-fatal CO poisoning was most prevalent in adults aged between 20 and 49 years, whereas the age specific death rate was highest for those over 60 years. The highest frequency of both non-fatal poisonings and actual fatalities occurred in the month January. The results suggest that CO poisoning has a high prevalence in this geographic region, with elderly adults being at the greatest risk, especially during the winter season. This represents a serious, but often neglected area of public health, and Health Authorities should be encouraged to promote public awareness against the dangers of CO exposure. This paper reviews the data and evidence surrounding the issue of CO poisoning and makes recommendations that a range of agencies and authorities should be involved in setting stricter standards and environmental legislations in this respect.
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- Carbon monoxide (CO)
- Gas appliances
- Public health