Possible asphyxiation from carbon dioxide of a cross-country skier in eastern California

A deadly volcanic hazard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This report describes an incident in which exceedingly high levels of carbon dioxide may have contributed to the death of a skier in eastern California. A cross-country skier was found dead inside a large, mostly covered snow cave, 1 day after he was reported missing. The autopsy report suggests that the skier died of acute pulmonary edema consistent with asphyxiation; carbon dioxide measurements inside the hole in which he was found reached 70%. This area is known for having a high carbon dioxide flux attributed to degassing of a large body of magma (molten rock) 10 to 20 km beneath the ski area. The literature describes many incidents of fatal carbon dioxide exposures associated with volcanic systems in other parts of the world. We believe this case represents the first reported death associated with volcanically produced carbon dioxide in the United States. Disaster and wilderness medicine specialists should be aware of and plan for this potential health hazard associated with active volcanoes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-195
Number of pages4
JournalWilderness and Environmental Medicine
Volume11
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000

Fingerprint

Asphyxia
Carbon Dioxide
Wilderness Medicine
Disaster Medicine
Carbon Cycle
Snow
Pulmonary Edema
Autopsy
Health

Keywords

  • Asphyxiation
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Skiing death
  • Volcanic hazards

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

Cite this

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AB - This report describes an incident in which exceedingly high levels of carbon dioxide may have contributed to the death of a skier in eastern California. A cross-country skier was found dead inside a large, mostly covered snow cave, 1 day after he was reported missing. The autopsy report suggests that the skier died of acute pulmonary edema consistent with asphyxiation; carbon dioxide measurements inside the hole in which he was found reached 70%. This area is known for having a high carbon dioxide flux attributed to degassing of a large body of magma (molten rock) 10 to 20 km beneath the ski area. The literature describes many incidents of fatal carbon dioxide exposures associated with volcanic systems in other parts of the world. We believe this case represents the first reported death associated with volcanically produced carbon dioxide in the United States. Disaster and wilderness medicine specialists should be aware of and plan for this potential health hazard associated with active volcanoes.

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