Date of Award

Fall 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

MS Industrial Hygiene


Industrial Hygiene

Committee Chair

Julie Hart

First Advisor

Terry Spear

Second Advisor

Sally Bardsley

Third Advisor

Kelly Amtmann


Every year, more than 400 people in the U.S. die from accidental Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that results from incomplete burning of common fuels such as natural gas and propane. When CO is inhaled, it enters the blood stream and reduces the ability of blood to carry oxygen. The environment for ice fishing is cold and ice fishermen who use ice huts or tents commonly use portable propane heaters to heat their shelters.

During the 2012/2013 ice fishing season, random fishermen were selected to be part of a research study. Upon arrival, the fishermen were evaluated for blood carbon monoxide concentrations (carboxyhemoglobin) and their pulse rate was recorded using a CO Oximeter. In addition, the air inside the fishermen shelters was evaluated for CO, oxygen and flammable gases with a MultiRAE plus 4 gas monitor.

While COHb was measureable in 40% of the subjects when they arrived at the fishing sites, within one hour of fishing in a structure heated with a propane heater, eight of 10 (80%) of subjects revealed measureable COHb concentrations. The air CO monitoring within the structures supported this hypothesis with mean CO concentrations ranging from 2 -22 ppm. In addition, the majority of subjects had increased pulse rates as their duration in the structures increased.

This research implies that the use of portable propane heaters in ice fishing structures may result in elevated air CO concentrations within the enclosures and increased fishermen blood carboxyhemoglobin levels. Additional research to further explore this potential public health problem is recommended.


A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Industrial Hygiene