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Vol. 6 - March 2000 - English Edition The Magazine from Skydive World


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 [Updated: March 5, 2000]     Page 3 - For more safety issues see Page 1 and Page 2

The "Silent Killer" Carbon Monoxide
Pilots now can protect themselves from death threat feared by many

Colorless, odorless and invisible, a concentration of less than one percent of carbon monoxide is fatal. The introduction of a small, personal carbon monoxide (CO) alarm, battery-powered and made especially for use in planes and motor vehicles, could mean the difference between life and death. The COSTAR(R) Model P-1 alarm was invented by San Diego-based Quantum Group, Inc., which in the early 1990s introduced the carbon monoxide alarm for recreational vehicles, homes, offices and other buildings. Those carbon monoxide alarms have saved many lives, as will likely be the case with this new alarm for pilots.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of death by poisoning in the United States and many other nations, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and carbon monoxide poisoning has been conclusively determined as the cause of many airplane crashes. But it is likely responsible for even more aviation fatalities, as paramedics are quick to "oxygenate" surviving crash victims that eventually die as a result of crashes. Autopsies would not find carbon monoxide, as it was essentially flushed from the survivor's blood.
Additionally, crash investigators often do not recover enough human remains to determine whether pilots had suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning. This was the case when Air Force Capt. Craig Button crashed his attack jet into a Colorado mountainside on April 2, 1997.
When carbon monoxide poisoning struck a New England pilot flying a small plane in January of 1997, the Associated Press reported that "just as air traffic controllers began suspecting the two were suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning and told her to open the window, she also lost consciousness." (Her son had already passed out.) With three other pilots in the plane, air traffic controllers watched helplessly as the single-engine Piper Cherokee plummeted to the ground.
Carbon monoxide is the product of incomplete combustion of hydrocarbon fuels such as the fuel that powers aircraft. It is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause dizziness, headaches and other flu-like symptoms and, at higher levels, brain damage and death. Carbon monoxide poisoning also inebriates pilots just as alcohol would, except the pilot has no idea their ability to drive safely is being depleted.
Other research indicates that carbon monoxide poisoning may be frequently overlooked as the cause of aviation accidents, because carbon monoxide poisoning is difficult to diagnose; the Journal of Emergency Medicine reported 23% of people clinically diagnosed with flu symptoms were actually suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. Several additional academic studies report that doctors frequently mis-diagnose what is actually carbon monoxide poisoning.
The COSTAR(R) technology has been shown as the most reliable and least likely to false alarm by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and is equipped with microcontroller intelligence that self-tests every 10 minutes. Its Solid-state Infrared (SIR) sensor system is the world's most carbon monoxide specific, thus eliminating false alarms.
Today, Quantum supplies carbon monoxide alarms for approximately 70 percent of the recreational vehicle market. Manufacturers including Winnebago and Fleetwood install the alarms as original equipment. And Quantum's CO-alarm technology today safeguards millions of homes across the globe under brands including "First Alert."
When Chicago in 1994 enacted a law mandating that carbon monoxide alarms be installed in all homes, schools, churches, etc., Quantum founder, Mark K. Goldstein, Ph.D, participated in Chicago City Council hearings that produced the ordinance.
For more information check out Quantum's web site.

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