Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Lethal carbon monoxide poisoning in wood pellet storerooms--two cases and a review of the literature


Gauthier, Saskia; Grass, Hildegard; Lory, Martin; Krämer, Thomas; Thali, Michael; Bartsch, Christine (2012). Lethal carbon monoxide poisoning in wood pellet storerooms--two cases and a review of the literature. Annals of Occupational Hygiene, 56(7):755-763.

Abstract

The installation of wood pellet heating as a cost-effective and climatically neutral source of energy for private households has increased steadily in recent years. We report two deaths that occurred within the space of about a year in wood pellet storerooms of private households in German-speaking countries and were investigated by forensic medical teams. This is the first report of fatalities in this special context as is shown in the literature review. Both victims died of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning; one of the victims was a woman who was 4 months pregnant. Measurements at the scene detected life-threatening CO concentrations (7500 ppm, >500 ppm), which were not significantly reduced after ventilation of the storerooms as required by regulations. We carried out a series of experiments in order to confirm CO production by wood pellets. Thirty kilograms of freshly produced pellets from two different manufacturers were stored for 16 days in airtight containers at 26°C with different relative humidities. CO concentrations between 3100 and 4700 ppm were measured in all containers. There were no notable differences between the wood pellet products or storage at different humidities. Emission of CO from wood pellets has already been described, but fatal accidents have previously been reported only in association with pellet transport on cargo ships or storage in silos. It is therefore a new finding that fatal accidents may also occur in the wood pellet storerooms of private households. We show that significant CO concentrations can build up even when these rooms are ventilated in accordance with the regulations and that such levels may cause the death of healthy persons, as described in the following. As the safety recommendations from the wood pellet industry are inadequate, we consider that further fatal accidents are likely to occur and recommend urgent revision of the safety regulations.

Abstract

The installation of wood pellet heating as a cost-effective and climatically neutral source of energy for private households has increased steadily in recent years. We report two deaths that occurred within the space of about a year in wood pellet storerooms of private households in German-speaking countries and were investigated by forensic medical teams. This is the first report of fatalities in this special context as is shown in the literature review. Both victims died of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning; one of the victims was a woman who was 4 months pregnant. Measurements at the scene detected life-threatening CO concentrations (7500 ppm, >500 ppm), which were not significantly reduced after ventilation of the storerooms as required by regulations. We carried out a series of experiments in order to confirm CO production by wood pellets. Thirty kilograms of freshly produced pellets from two different manufacturers were stored for 16 days in airtight containers at 26°C with different relative humidities. CO concentrations between 3100 and 4700 ppm were measured in all containers. There were no notable differences between the wood pellet products or storage at different humidities. Emission of CO from wood pellets has already been described, but fatal accidents have previously been reported only in association with pellet transport on cargo ships or storage in silos. It is therefore a new finding that fatal accidents may also occur in the wood pellet storerooms of private households. We show that significant CO concentrations can build up even when these rooms are ventilated in accordance with the regulations and that such levels may cause the death of healthy persons, as described in the following. As the safety recommendations from the wood pellet industry are inadequate, we consider that further fatal accidents are likely to occur and recommend urgent revision of the safety regulations.

Statistics

Citations

16 citations in Web of Science®
17 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, not refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Legal Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:340 Law
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:20 Sep 2012 11:51
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:57
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:0003-4878
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/annhyg/mes047
PubMed ID:22879445

Download

Full text not available from this repository.
View at publisher

TrendTerms

TrendTerms displays relevant terms of the abstract of this publication and related documents on a map. The terms and their relations were extracted from ZORA using word statistics. Their timelines are taken from ZORA as well. The bubble size of a term is proportional to the number of documents where the term occurs. Red, orange, yellow and green colors are used for terms that occur in the current document; red indicates high interlinkedness of a term with other terms, orange, yellow and green decreasing interlinkedness. Blue is used for terms that have a relation with the terms in this document, but occur in other documents.
You can navigate and zoom the map. Mouse-hovering a term displays its timeline, clicking it yields the associated documents.

Author Collaborations