"Coal fumes lead to heavy head and death" - First mention of the lethal effects of coal fumes --- Aristotle, Greece, 3rd century B.C.
Inhabitants of Nuceria killed by CO suffocation in the bath --- Hannibal, Carthage, 247-183 B.C.
Coal fumes were used for suicide and execution --- Cicero, Rome, 106-43 B.C.; suicide of Roman author Seneca, 65 A.D.
A combustible gas that burned with a bright blue flame described --- Joseph Priestley, England, 1772
First clinical description of coal gas poisoning --- Harmant, France, 1775
CO identified as the toxic substance in coal gas --- LeBlanc, France, 1842
Shown that CO produces hypoxia by reversible combination with hemoglobin --- Claude Bernard, France, 1857
Demonstration that rats survive CO poisoning when placed in oxygen at 2 atmospheres pressure --- John Scott Haldane, England, 1895
Polar explorer Richard Byrd nearly loses life as result of chronic CO poisoning --- early 20th century
611 CO-related deaths occur in New York City from use of illuminating gas --- 1927
Treatment of CO poisoning with Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBO) in experimental animals --- End & Long, U.S., 1942
First clinical use of HBO therapy in CO poisoning --- Smith & Sharp, 1960
International tennis star Vitas Gerulaitus loses life in CO accident involving a pool heater, September, 1994
Use as euthanasia agent by medical suicide advocate, Jack Kevorkian, M.D. --- 1990s
Note: It has been suggested based on his writings that the famous American author, Edgar Allan Poe, was chronically poisoned by carbon monoxide, probably contained in illuminating gas. Poe died November 17, 1875, 32 years of age.
Used with permission from the author David G. Penney, PH.D.