Eleven people, including five children, were hospitalized after being exposed to near lethal levels of carbon monoxide on Friday, April 19, 2019 in an apartment building located at 27 Coyle Place in Yonkers, New York.

According to responding firefighters, one of the building’s occupants came home and found family members unconscious, a telltale sign of carbon monoxide poisoning. An investigation is ongoing, but it is believed that faulty heating equipment was the cause.

Thankfully, all eleven people survived despite being exposed to ambient air levels of carbon monoxide between 600 to 700 parts per million which, according to fire officials, “is well above the lethal level of carbon monoxide. Levels that high can raise the level of carbon monoxide in the blood, carboxyhemoglobin, to 50% in a matter of minutes. Levels above 50% often are fatal.

As per the New York State Department of Health, the World Health Organization recommends that indoor levels of carbon monoxide not exceed 9 parts per million for an eight-hour period and 25 parts per million for a one-hour period. All eleven were given oxygen, regained consciousness and were taken to area hospitals where, hopefully, they were given hyperbaric oxygen treatment, as this is known to reduce the incidence of long-term brain damage from high exposures of carbon monoxide by about 20%.

Despite a reasonably quick elimination of the carbon monoxide from blood, experience demonstrates that it would not be unusual for about half of those exposed to be left with some type of brain damage, resulting in long term problems. They are also at increased risk for heart attacks, and pulmonary problems that can affect every organ in the human body.

If any survivor experiences ongoing problems, it’s imperative that they return for medical treatment as soon as these symptoms occur. What to watch out for? Headaches of course, but also a relapse of the same symptoms they were feeling at the time of the poisoning: nausea, lightheadedness, fogginess.

Long term problems related to brain damage from Yonkers carbon monoxide poisoning fall in to four major categories:

  • Changes in cognition
  • Changes in mood
  • Behavioral changes
  • Neurological deficits

Changes in Cognition After Yonkers Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Most often seen after carbon monoxide poisoning are changes in cognition, the way a person thinks, remembers and processes information. Short-term memory and difficulty concentrating are also common when a person is fatigued or having headaches, which occurs in most cases. Additionally, a person may experience difficulty with what is called “executive functioning” which involves decision making, difficulties in initiating activity, and poor judgment – all behaviors consistent with damage to the brain’s frontal lobe.

Changes in Mood After Yonkers Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Mood swings are also associated with brain damage from carbon monoxide poisoning. As differentiated from behavior, a change in mood is how a person feels about themselves, including depression, anxiety and an overall dulling of emotions.

Changes in Behavior After Yonkers Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Behavioral changes also often occur with brain damage from carbon monoxide poisoning. This includes impulsivity, anger, changes in manners and ability to stay within social norms happen.

Neurological Deficits After Yonkers Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
The reason people with brain damage after carbon monoxide poisoning experience these symptoms is due to changes in the way the nervous system interacts with the brain. The cranial nerves, and the areas deep inside the brain where perception and central nervous system input are processed, are specifically damaged by carbon monoxide poisoning. This can impact vision, hearing, balance and sleep.

Carbon monoxide poisoning does not happen without the fault of others. Those who survived should get to the bottom of what happened and hold those who neglected the heating system in this house responsible.