This page is for data users of the Wisconsin Environmental Public Health Tracking data portal. You can find general carbon monoxide poisoning information on our carbon monoxide page.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas that can't be seen or smelled. CO is made whenever fuel or other materials are burned. CO is found in fires and exhaust from cars and trucks, portable generators, stoves, gas ranges, and heating systems.
The section below presents answers to frequently asked questions about our carbon monoxide data.
What is carbon monoxide poisoning?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic, colorless, and odorless gas. CO is given off whenever fuel or other materials are burned. CO is found in fires and exhaust from cars and trucks, portable generators, stoves, gas ranges, and heating systems. CO fumes can build up in places that do not have a good flow of fresh air, such as a garage or a house with closed windows and doors. Breathing high levels of CO can cause severe illness or death in a matter of minutes.
Red blood cells pick up CO more easily than they pick up oxygen. If there is a lot of CO in the air, the body may replace oxygen in the blood with CO. This blocks oxygen from getting into the body, which can damage tissues and result in death.
Although carbon monoxide poisoning can almost always be prevented, more than 500 people in the United States die every year as a result of accidental, non-fire exposure to this toxic gas. Several things can be done to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Learn more by reading the carbon monoxide fact sheet.
How can tracking carbon monoxide poisoning improve public health?
Tracking carbon monoxide poisoning gives public health professionals a better understanding of the health consequences of carbon monoxide poisonings across the country. We can monitor the impact of public health policy aimed at preventing carbon monoxide poisoning.
What is the data source?
Wisconsin Tracking provides data on carbon monoxide hospital admissions and emergency department visits. The source of these data is the Wisconsin Hospital Association Information Center, Inc.
Which measures does Wisconsin Tracking have for carbon monoxide poisoning?
What are some considerations for interpreting the data?
- Hospital admission and emergency department visit data will not include people who experience symptoms but are not seen in the emergency room or admitted to the hospital.
- These data do not include hospitalizations and emergency department visits among residents of Wisconsin in border states (such as Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois).
- These data do not include inpatient admissions or emergency department visits at hospitals owned by the federal government, such as Veterans Administration hospitals.
- The death certificate dataset may be missing a small number of cases where the decedent is a Wisconsin resident but died in another state.
- Cases that involve a call to the state’s poison center may or may not be treated by medical personnel, and thus it can be difficult to confirm the poisoning.
- Data users should keep in mind that many factors contribute to a disease. These factors should be considered when interpreting the data. Factors include:
- Demographics (race, gender, age)
- Socioeconomic status (income level, education)
- Geography (rural, urban)
- Changes in the medical field (diagnosis patterns, reporting requirements)
- Individual behavior (diet, smoking)
Where can I learn more about carbon monoxide poisoning?
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services – Carbon Monoxide
- Fact Sheet: Using Generators Safely (PDF)
- Fact Sheet: Protecting Your Family From Carbon Monoxide (PDF)
- Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services – The Law on Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
- Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection - The New Carbon Monoxide Rule: Carbon Monoxide Detectors in Residential Buildings Webinar
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services - Carbon Monoxide Reportable Conditions Webinar
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Carbon Monoxide