Possible asphyxiation from carbon dioxide of a cross-country skier in eastern California: A deadly volcanic hazard

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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
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

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Keywords

  • Asphyxiation
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Skiing death
  • Volcanic hazards

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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