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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 1999 March;39(1):20-3

Copyright © 1999 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Carbon monoxide poisoning in racing car drivers

Holley J. E. 1, 2, Butler J. W. 2, 3, Mahoney J. M. 2, 4

1 Department of Emergency Medicine, Baptist Memorial Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee; 2 SCCA Pro Racing, Rapid Response Team Engelwood, Co, Genex Services Inc., Waukesha, Wisconsin; 3 United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, Brooks AFB, Texas; 4 Columbia Hospital Emergency Department, Milwaukee, Wisconsin


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Back­ground. To deter­mine if car­bon monox­ide (CO) expo­sure dur­ing com­pe­ti­tion rac­ing is sig­nif­i­cant ­enough to ­cause ­post-rac­ing symp­toms ­among pro­fes­sion­al rac­ing driv­ers.
Meth­ods. ­Closed vehi­cle pro­fes­sion­al rac­ing driv­ers ­were ques­tioned ­after com­pe­ti­tion regard­ing symp­toms con­sis­tent ­with ­heat expo­sure, dehy­dra­tion, and car­bon monox­ide poi­son­ing. All driv­ers, regard­less of symp­toms, under­went ­expired CO mon­i­tor­ing ­using a ­breath ana­lyz­er ­both ­before and ­after com­pe­ti­tion ­events. CO meas­ure­ments ­were per­formed ­prior to any ­post-­race inter­views. Driv­er smok­ing his­to­ry, ­laps at low ­speed (­under cau­tion), cock­pit ­fire or dam­age to the ­exhaust ­system ­were ­also not­ed. An asso­ci­a­tion ­between driv­er symp­toms, ­track and vehi­cle con­di­tion, and increas­es in ­expired CO lev­els dur­ing rac­ing was ­sought.
­Results. Twen­ty-eight driv­ers com­plet­ed the ­study. ­Each driv­er was test­ed ­both ­before and ­after ­each com­pe­ti­tion ­event, and ­some driv­ers ­were test­ed at dif­fer­ent ­tracks. All of the test­ed driv­ers expe­ri­enced an ­increase in car­box­y­he­mog­lo­bin con­cen­tra­tions dur­ing the com­pe­ti­tion ­event. Driv­ers who ­smoked had high­er base­line lev­els ­than non-smok­ers, but ­were no ­more like­ly to ­have symp­toms. The driv­er ­with the high­est ­post-­race CO lev­el was ­exposed to a ­fire ­which com­plete­ly ­destroyed the vehi­cle, but he com­plained of no symp­toms ­after the ­race. ­Most driv­ers com­plained of ­post-­race symp­toms or ­appeared symp­to­mat­ic, but no cor­re­la­tion ­could be ­shown ­between ­post-­race CO lev­els and symp­toms.
Con­clu­sions. ­There is a ­mild ­increase in driv­er CO lev­els dur­ing pro­fes­sion­al ­road rac­ing com­pe­ti­tion, how­ev­er, no cor­re­la­tion ­with CO lev­el and driv­er symp­tom­a­tol­o­gy can be dem­on­strat­ed. Car­bon monox­ide ­does not ­appear to be a sig­nif­i­cant ­cause of ­post-­race driv­er symp­toms ­such as ­fatigue, nau­sea, head­ache, and weak­ness.

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