Vol 62, No 3 (2010)
Case report
Published online: 2010-12-06

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Occupational poisoning by carbon monoxide aboard a gas carrier. Report on 8 cases

David Lucas, Brice Loddé, Dominique Jegaden, Jean-Ariel Bronstein, Richard Pougnet, S. Bell, Jean-Dominique Dewitte
IMH 2010;62(3):176-179.


- To determine the accidental factors and the clinical symptoms in eight cases of occupational poisoning of port workers by carbon monoxide.
- To consider the primary prevention of this serious pathology occurring at work.
- To analyze the circumstances of the exposure to carbon monoxide in the employees in the naval repair sector.
- To indicate the systemic failures causing this accidental poisoning, the means for early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, and to discuss the prevention of such accidents.
Results. The poisoning occurred in eight mechanics and electricians working without any protective means in a gas carrier tank in dry dock. The employees, unaware of carbon monoxide exposure, stayed for 45 minutes in an atmosphere polluted with carbon monoxide concentrations of over 500 ppm. The main complaints were of headache, muscular weakness, and drowsiness. No post-interval syndrome was found three weeks after poisoning. The levels of carboxyhaemoglobin varied from 1.8 to 31.2%. Early normal pressure oxygen therapy reduced the symptoms. No delayed syndrome was found three weeks after poisoning.
Conclusions. The inclusion of poisonous gas in gas-free certification, adherence to maritime harbour regulations, greater respect for working instructions in hazardous environments, and the use of detectors appropriate to the conditions for each ship would avoid exposure and decrease the risk of poisoning.

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