More tourists die from Carbon Monoxide

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DandyDon

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It's just so easy to pack a cheap, lightweight smoke & carbon monoxide alarm for any overnight stay. Why not...?

Three Americans found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning at Mexico City Airbnb, official says

Three Americans died from carbon monoxide poisoning while staying at a rented apartment in Mexico City, the city attorney general’s office said.

The office began an investigation October 30, it said, looking into the “death of three foreigners, derived from possible poisoning by gas inhalation inside an apartment in the La Rosita, Cuajimalpa de Morelos.” Expert studies indicate the gas was carbon monoxide, the attorney general’s Tuesday statement said.

After detecting an intense smell of gas in the apartment, security guards at a residential complex requested support from local authorities, the statement said, and the agents who arrived found the bodies of a woman and two men.

Paramedics determined they were dead at the scene, the report said. The attorney general’s office has ordered investigations.

The three Americans have not yet been publicly identified. The US Embassy confirmed the deaths to CNN affiliate WDSU, saying, “We are closely monitoring local authorities’ investigation into the cause of death. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance. Out of respect for the privacy of the families, we have nothing further to add at this time.”

Airbnb called the deaths a “terrible tragedy” and said it stood ready to assist with any inquiries.

“Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones as they grieve such an unimaginable loss. Our priority right now is supporting those impacted as the authorities investigate what happened,” the online home rental company said in its statement.

News of the deaths comes just months after reports that three Americans died of carbon monoxide poisoning at a Sandals resort on Bahamas’ Great Exuma island.

Two couples reported feeling ill the night of May 5 and were seen by medical staff, Bahamian police said.

The next day, Michael Phillips, 68, and his wife, Robbie Phillips, 65, of Tennessee, and Vincent Paul Chiarella, 64, of Florida, were found dead in their villas. Chiarella’s wife, Donnis, 65, was airlifted to the capital, Nassau, for further treatment before being transferred to Florida.
 
"Expert studies indicate the gas was carbon monoxide, the attorney general’s Tuesday statement said.
. . .
After detecting an intense smell of gas in the apartment ...."


If carbon monoxide is odorless, how do we reconcile these statements?
 
"Expert studies indicate the gas was carbon monoxide, the attorney general’s Tuesday statement said.
. . .
After detecting an intense smell of gas in the apartment ...."


If carbon monoxide is odorless, how do we reconcile these statements?
Maybe they are mixing up the the terms "carbon monoxide" and "natural gas"? As we all know, CO has no odor, and neither does NG. However, they put mercaptan in NG to give it its distinct "rotten eggs" smell.
 
After detecting an intense smell of gas in the apartment ...."
That was their first clue, so "security guards at a residential complex requested support from local authorities" who had air testers.
"Expert studies indicate the gas was carbon monoxide, the attorney general’s Tuesday statement said.
Expert is a reach, but first responders often carry fast reaction CO alarms.
 
Maybe they are mixing up the the terms "carbon monoxide" and "natural gas"? As we all know, CO has no odor, and neither does NG. However, they put mercaptan in NG to give it its distinct "rotten eggs" smell.
All I can think of is that maybe there was an appliance such as a water heater that was leaking natural gas and burning the rest incompletely, somehow producing excess CO. Or something like that. I know neither the details of how gas appliances work nor the chemistry of combustion.
 
I suspect these incidents have been common but undiscovered in the past before first responders started carrying CO alarms and before hospitals were able to test blood for CO.

One news article mentions problems with the boiler. I suspect that the apartment had an instant heating fixture popular in Mexico that heats the water flowing thru a metal line just before it's used, not a tank. Excerpting from one: "Investigators discovered a failure in the apartment's gas boiler, which released a gas smell as well as carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas, a spokesperson for the attorney general's office told ABC News. One of the victims was found dead in the bathroom and is believed to have been attempting to take a shower, which could have activated the boiler, the spokesperson said."

Source: 3 Americans found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning at Mexico City Airbnb
 
"The presence of carbon monoxide in hotels is an issue travelers should have on their radars, according to a study published in Preventive Medicine Reports in 2019. The authors of that study discovered that from Jan. 1, 2005 to Dec. 31, 2018, more than 900 guests traveling in the U.S. were poisoned in 115 identified incidents — including 22 fatalities. The type of lodgings where the odorless gas was present included hotels, motels and resorts of all classes and located in a majority of states, the study said." That's just in the US.
 
Thanks, Don. (I can't bring myself to click on the Thanks emoji--that goofy grinning thumbs-up face is not appropriate for thanking people for their comments on tragedies.)
 
CO production is from combustion. The less efficient production, the more CO produced. The term used "gas" is used for a unlimited amount of products/situations by the public, media and non-expert persons (law enforcement). Who knows what it is actually implying in this situation. CO is colorless and odorless. Being that it is produced through combustion, it is normally mixed with other gases produces which is normally associated with exhaust smell. All different gases but mixed/produced together.
First responders, if they carry meters, typically carry a 4 gas meter that includes CO. EMS specific units are starting to carry single gas, CO meters. I've had a hand full of legitimate CO saturated incidents with significant impact to the occupants. A couple got a ride to the hyperbaric chamber for treatment. It is very common in a situation like this were it is pure or almost pure CO, the situation cause isn't confirmed through atmospheric metering because doors and windows are left open and by the time responders equipped to confirm it arrive, the atmosphere has exchanged and no readings are found. This happens all the time and the situation is verified through equipment inspection by a trained technician.

My experience/research makes me believe that most of the CO saturated incidents from home appliances is from blocked or disconnected exhaust systems for the appliances. Either from a build of of snow (or something else) outside blocking it or human involvement that makes the system fail. A poorly maintained system can defiantly cause a issue but it seems that the system contains the increase of gases and exhausts them outside were they are then notices.
 
"Expert studies indicate the gas was carbon monoxide, the attorney general’s Tuesday statement said.
. . .
After detecting an intense smell of gas in the apartment ...."


If carbon monoxide is odorless, how do we reconcile these statements?
as a gas fitter, my guess would be that the "gas smell" was actually flu gas. many people in my experience say they "smell gas" when in fact they are smelling the products of combustion. not raw gas or propane.
in a case like this, from reading the info above, it sounds like a water heater issue. i have seen many ads for homes for sale in mexico that refer to the water heater as a "boiler".
whether or not it was an actual tank or an on demand system really doesn't matter.
if a gas burner of any type was producing enough CO, and those gases were not being exhausted, people die.
we stayed in a really nice condo in playa del carmen once that had a propane hot water tank in the laundry room. there was no exhaust pipe. none. they simply kept the window open in that room.
i can tell you the burner on that appliance was def in need of servicing. when i pointed out to the manager that there was no exhaust venting, they said....."thats how they do it here". haha which is not always true. some builders actually try to do things right.
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/perdix-ai/

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