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Smoke Inhalation Diagnosis

Smoke inhalation is the most common route of cyanide exposure. Unfortunately, even though the existence of high levels of cyanide in fire smoke has been known for over 40 years, cyanide exposure is often misdiagnosed as carbon monoxide poisoning since these two toxins affect the same biological processes and share many common symptoms.  There is currently no diagnostic tool for cyanide exposure that emergency response personnel can rely on.  A rapid and portable cyanide exposure diagnostic (The Cyanalyzer) would allow onsite diagnoses and the administration of life-saving therapeutics, which could potentially save the lives of up to 10,000 smoke inhalation victims per year.


For more information about smoke inhalation, please see the following resources.


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Literature linking cyanide exposure to smoke inhalation.

1. P. Lawson-Smith, E.C. Jansen, O. Hyldegaard, Cyanide intoxication as part of smoke inhalation - a review on diagnosis and treatment from the emergency perspective, Scand. J. Trauma, Resusc. Emerg. Med., 19(2011).

2. H. Salem, S.A. Katz, Inhalation Toxicology, 2nd ed.: CRC Press; 2005.

3. S.H. Silverman, G.F. Purdue, J.L. Hunt, R.O. Bost, Cyanide Toxicity in Burned Patients, J. Trauma, 28(1988) 171-6.

4. F.J. Baud, P. Barriot, V. Toffis, B. Riou, E. Vicaut, Y. Lecarpentier, et al., Elevated Blood Cyanide Concentrations in Victims of Smoke Inhalation, New Engl. J. Med., 325(1991) 1761-6.

5. P. Murphy, C. Colwell, G. Pineda Smoke Inhalation: Part 1. (accessed 6/15/2015).

6. M. Ahrens, Characteristics of Home Fire Victims, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Fire Analysis and Research, Quincy, MA 2014.

7. M.S. Levine, E.P. Radford, Occupational Exposures to Cyanide in Baltomore Fire Fighters, J. Occup. Med., 20(1978) 53-6.

8. I.S. Symington, R.A. Anderson, J.S. Oliver, I. Thomson, W.A. Harland, J.W. Kerr, Cyanide Exposure in Fires, Lancet, (1978) 91-2.

9. J. Jones, J. McMullen, J. Daughtery, Toxic Smoke Inhalation: Cyanide Poisoning in Fire Victims, Am. J. Emerg. Med., 5(1987) 317-21.

10. Y. Alarie, Toxicity of Fire Smoke, Crit. Rev. Toxicol., 32(2002) 259-89.

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