A Delta flight to Denver was diverted to Tulsa because passengers were beginning to feel ill. The authorities found carbon monoxide in the passengers. It was not found in the air after the flight had landed, according to an AOL article.
The source of the gas is still unknown. No traces were found in the plane. Tulsa Fire Department spokesman Stan May said that it could have been caused by an aerosol can in someone’s luggage.
The paramedics did not do a blood test on passengers. Instead, they used a pulse oximeter to determine the amount of carbon monoxide in people’s symptoms. This procedure is non-invasive and does not require drawing blood.
May said the people’s levels were relatively low. People were feeling drowsy and nauseous.
Large aerosol cans or any flammable device are not allowed on airplanes in checked baggage or carry-ons. Smaller aerosol cans that are 3.4 ounces or smaller are allowed.
However, May said that they did the right thing by landing the plane and having passengers checked out.
Carbon monoxide, when it’s not deadly, can cause brain damage. It can cause cognitive impairments and memory loss. This is because the hippocampus is particularly at risk of damage. This is the brain’s memory center.
Carbon monoxide binds to hemoglobin, or the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. It binds much tighter to the hemoglobin than does oxygen. When the body can’t get enough oxygen, it is called anoxia.
It also causes a cascade of biological events that can be toxic. The hippocampus, which transfers information into long term memory, sits at the end of the oxygen cycle, making it most at risk. The hippocampus will also release glutamate at high levels, which is toxic to the brain.
Right after the event, doctors might see small spots of damage, but the damage continues long after the incident. Cell death, or atrophy, can be seen up to twelve months after the poisoning. It takes a long time for cells to actually die.
Patients might experience memory problems where they are unable to process new information. This can interfere with jobs and school. The damage can be seen on an MRI and can last for the rest of one’s life.
It is unclear if the people on the Delta flight have permanent damage to their brains. However, damage can occur even at low levels if it is for a long time. Further testing should be done on these victims.
Source: Brain Damage in Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Brain Damage in Carbon Monoxide Poisoning