On July 19, 1978, two crewmen aboard a shrimp trawler died and the captain was hospitalized after being exposed to a toxic atmosphere in the ship's hold. Examination of the Coast Guard records of deaths at sea since 1970 led to the identification of 11 incidents involving 32 deaths by asphyxia. All deaths occurred in the unventilated holds of ships in warm waters and during warm months of the year. Asphyxia in the unventilated holds of ships is an underrecognized hazard. We recommend that fishermen be informed of this hazard, that ships' holds be ventilated before they are entered, and that safety protocols be provided to rescuers of persons found unconscious in a ship's hold.
(JAMA 244:2193-2194, 1980)