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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning


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#1 DJDiverDan

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 12:49 PM

I have been following the Cozumel Fatalities threads on ScubaBoard, and it appears that there have been at least 2, maybe 3 (or more?) recent Scuba Diving fatalities on Cozumel tied to bad Nitrox fills - involving Carbon Monoxide levels far in excess of the max. limit of 10 ppm. The U.S. is going to a 3ppm limit, recognizing that CO levels (just like O2 and Nitrogen) become far more dangerous at depth, as partial pressure increases. At 90 feet, you still have only 10ppm of CO, but it becomes 4 times as effective bonding with Hemoglobin and blocking O2 uptake. Does the Cozumel fill station have an on-line CO analyzer on its compressor? Do any (or all) of the Dive shops have CO analyzers that they use on the tanks they supply? Frankly, this has me frightened enough that I'm considering buying the portable CO Analyzer (about $300) before flying down next Thursday. I like to use Nitrox on Second dives, but if Cozumel has a CO contamination problem on Nitrox fills, it's just not worth it, and if it has a CO contamination problem on Air fills, I'd rather just spend my dive dollars elsewhere.
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#2 Tomas

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 02:09 PM

OK, where were the fills from and who was/were the dive op(s)?
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#3 cvchief

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 05:23 PM

That was not at all what I got out of the posts I read. Certainly not a big co problem. You have specific facts to the contrary post em. One of the suppliers has in line co monitoring and several boats are carrying co testers on board
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#4 DJDiverDan

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 09:53 PM

Alright, I went back & checked posts carefully. There is a lot of speculation on SubaBoard, & sometimes tough to filter through. Here is what I've got; one confirmed case of CO poisoning on Cozumel - a Cave diver, diving with a team that was mapping underground cave system, died October 16, 2011. Autopsy confirmed lethal levels of carboxyhemoglobin (formed when Carbon Monoxide binds with hemoglobin, blocking uptake of oxygen), and tank tests showed CO levels well above legal limit. He was diving a Nitrox fill; other divers in his group were unaffected, all were diving with air fills, all other tanks were within safe CO levels. Two other fatalities recently: One suspected of being a heart attack, but no autopsy performed; One a case of drowning, but no explanation why a 60 year old experienced diver in good health would leave her dive group to surface, not make it the surface, and drown (perhaps another cause resulted in a siezure, but no autopsy report, no report that tank was tested. So, maybe it was only one in three that was definitely CO poisoning. We won't know unless & until the tanks are tested, and the test results are released, whether CO was a contributing cause in either of the other 2 cases - maybe it triggered the heart attack, maybe it was just the stress of diving. And maybe CO caused disorientation of the other diver who died on the 21st, or maybe it was something entirely different. There seems to be a real reluctance on Cozumel to release hard facts. There was a situation 2 years ago in which three divers, all with the same Dive Op, got very sick with CO poisoning, but no fatalities. That Dive Op was using its own compressor and had a bad filter on its intake. I understand that there is now an in-line CO analyzer at the Meridiano fill station (which is a good start), which fills most, but not all, tanks used on Cozumel. But that analyzer is only as good as the people who install it, maintain it, calibrate it, and (hopefully) continuously monitor it. Even if the risks of a contaminated tank are minute, the results for the one in ten thousand divers who might get a bad fill are disastrous. I'm buying the CO Analyzer & using it on every tank I dive.
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#5 sailsgal

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 07:53 AM

I live in Cozumel and use Nitrox when I dive. I have my own analyser and test the tanks every time I dive. The tanks come from Meridiano on 30th. Never had a problem for the past 1.5 years of using Nitrox or 3 years previous using air tanks? I am a female 60 years old and in good health.
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#6 cvchief

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 09:12 AM

Well, if you read carefully, the one cave diver using a rebreather was reported as CO in the news, but even that is disputed by locals. I also think one in ten thousand divers is way too many. How many tanks roll out in a day with no problem even if that one tank had something wrong with it? That being said, the boat I dive with just bought a CO analyzer to go with the O2 analyzer because more divers are interested in checking the tanks. There is no downside to checking your tanks for CO as well as O2.
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#7 MarkC

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 03:34 PM

I'll stick to what I was trained with 22 years ago - regular air...
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“Corona con lima, Corona with lime... Todo el tiempo, hey all of the time... Con mucho gusto, I’m havin such a good time... Corona con lima, Corona with lime...”




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