Gas geysers: Easy on the pocket, deadly for health

Updated on Feb 20, 2008 02:46 AM IST
Cheap and easily available gas geysers fitted in your bathrooms could kill you, reports Jaya Shroff.
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Hindustan Times | ByJaya Shroff, New Delhi

Cheap and easily available gas geysers fitted in your bathrooms could kill you. In some cases, the use of gas geysers in badly ventilated bathrooms has caused death due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Sustained exposure to low levels of oxygen every day also increases risk of Parkinson’s disease and dementia over a period of time. Over the past two years, 24 patients between the age of 12-45 were brought into the emergency of three city hospitals (Max Balaji, Patparjung, Max Hospital Noida and Jain hospital) with loss of consciousness while bathing in hot water. All the cases came in the winter months of November to January.

“It is interesting how none of these patients had a history of seizure or any other chronic ailment. Initially, it was difficult to pinpoint the problem as we thought it was hot water epilepsy, but similar symptoms leading to gas geysers raised suspicion after which analyses was done,” said Dr Arun Garg, Senior Consultant, Neurology, Max Healthcare, Patpargunj.

“They were unconsciousness or confused for a few hour but completely recovered after that,” he added. In all cases ill-ventilated bathrooms were fitted with gas geysers.

Of 16 patients, 10 were in delirious state while six had regained normalcy by the time they reached the hospital. Four patients could vaguely recall the feeling of suffocation, dizziness and general weakness before losing consciousness. But none reported any foul smell, or other premonitory symptoms.

Discussions with the families suggested patients lost consciousness after spending 30 minutes to 2 hours in the bathroom. Those who remained longer in the bath were confused or unconscious for a longer period.

Gas geysers are cheap to install and run and are becoming increasingly popular. In a closed room like a bathroom, the burning in low oxygen causes the formation of the colourless and odourless gas, carbon monoxide, which can cause death.

“Carbon monoxide deprives the brain of oxygen and damages it, leading to Parkinson’s, dementia and jitteriness. Symptoms of mild poisoning include headaches, vertigo, and flu-like effects; larger exposure can lead to significant toxicity of the nervous system and heart,” warns Dr Sumit Singh, Associate Professor Neurology at AIIMS.

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