NEHA November 2022 Journal of Environmental Health

November 2022 • Journal of Environmental Health 17 2020 “Grumpy Old Men” ice fishing festival in Wabasha, Minnesota. The town chamber of commerce that sponsors the festival was contacted prior to the event and given a copy of our research proposal as well as the survey instrument for review. Given that CO poisoning is a very real threat to people who ice fish, the chamber of commerce granted permission to use the festival as an opportunity to collect data. The optional surveys were completed at the time of registration to the festival and turned in at a designated collection point. Persons under 18 years were excluded from the study. Participants were surveyed about basic demographic data including age and gender. No additional identifying information about race, ethnicity, education, or income was asked or collected. The main portion of the survey collected data regarding knowledge about and risks for CO poisoning, including the use of specific equipment, such as an icehouse, heater, and generator. The survey then asked about participant awareness of CO in general, symptoms of CO poisoning, and what the participant would do if they experienced CO poisoning symptoms. Next, the survey asked if participants had a CO detector in their icehouse, had the detector ever gone o…, and if so, what action did they take. Finally, other behavioral data were collected to include the length of time of a typical ice fishing session and if respondents ever consumed alcohol while ice fishing—given how common that activity is when ice fishing. Figure 1 displays a sample of the survey used in this study. Results Of the 387 people who registered for the ice fishing festival, 101 adults completed our survey (26.1% response rate). One survey was excluded because the respondent was under 18 years. Of the respondents, 72.7% identified as male. The mean age of all respondents was 44.04 years (46.93 years for male respondents and 38.05 years for female respondents). Among respondents, 85% reported that they use an icehouse for their ice fishing activities (Figure 2). Of those who fish in icehouses, 98% use propane heaters and 14% use gas-powered generators. Over 92% of all respondents were aware of CO poisoning (100% of female respondents and 85% of male respondents) and over 82% (85% of female respondents and 81% of male respondents) were aware of some of the symptoms of CO poisoning. Alcohol use while ice fishing was reported by 77% of respondents and by 79% of propane heater users. Of all participants, 50% responded “yes” to consuming alcohol while ice fishing and 28% responded “sometimes.” There was no significant di…erence in alcohol use by gender (81% of female respondents and 78% of male respondents). Among respondents who use propane heaters in their icehouses—the group most at risk of CO poisoning—only 33% reported the presence of a CO detector. The apparent lack of CO detectors is of particular concern given the prolonged periods that respondents reported spending in their icehouses. A reported average of 9.66 hr of fishing in an icehouse at one time could, in the setting of a poorly functioning or poorly ventilated propane heater, lead to substantial CO buildup and exposure (Hampson, 2016a, 2016b; Yoon et al., 1998). Equally concerning is the fact that only 34% of respondents who use propane heaters in their icehouses reported that they would call 911 or go to a hospital for symptoms of CO poisoning. Of the respondents with propane-heated icehouses, those who reported consuming alcohol were significantly less likely to seek medical attention for symptoms of CO poisoning (OR = 0.34; 95% confidence interval [0.12, 0.97]) than those who reported not consuming alcohol. There were 13 individuals who responded that their Example of Survey Questions for Ice Fishers Age ____ Sex □ M □ F □ Other 1. Do you ever fish in an icehouse? □ Yes □ No 2. If so, what kind of heater do you use? □ Propane □ Electric □ None 3. Do you use a generator for the icehouse? □ Yes □ No 4. Have you heard of carbon monoxide poisoning? □ Yes □ No 5. Do you know the symptoms of poisoning? □ Yes □ No Like ______________________________________________________ 6. If you had any of those symptoms, what would you do? □ Go outside □ Call 911/go to a hospital □ Don’t know Other _____________________________________________________ 7. Do you have a carbon monoxide detector in the icehouse? □ Yes □ No 8. Has it ever gone off? □ Yes □ No 9. If yes, what did you do? □ Don’t remember __________________________________________________________ 10. How long do you spend ice fishing at one time? ____ hours 11. Do you drink beer or alcohol when you ice fish? □ Yes □ No □ Sometimes FIGURE 1

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