Carbon Monoxide in the Home
Research shows that the air within homes and buildings can be more polluted than outdoor air. The average person spends approximately 90% of their time indoors. In terms of acute hazards, carbon monoxide (CO) is the most dangerous indoor air pollutant.
What is Carbon monoxide?
CO is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. It is produced by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels such as natural gas, propane, fuel oil, gasoline, kerosene, wood and coal. Each year in the United States approximately 1,500 persons die from accidental exposure to high levels of CO.
How does carbon monoxide get indoors?
Dangerous levels of CO in homes is usually caused by malfunctioning furnaces, faulty gas appliances, unvented space heaters, poorly maintained or back drafting chimneys and automobile exhaust from attached garages.
What are the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning?
CO enters the body through the lungs and displaces oxygen in the blood stream. Exposure to elevated levels of CO interferes with the blood's ability to carry oxygen to vital parts of the body. Early signs of CO poisoning are often similar to the flu and include headache, dizziness and tightening across the forehead. Prolonged exposure can lead to more serious effects such as nausea, vomiting, weakness, unconsciousness and death. If you suspect that you are experiencing CO monoxide poisoning in your home, you should immediately:
- shut off all fuel burning appliances
- open windows for ventilation
- contact your doctor
- contact a professional heating contractor
How can you reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning?
- Install a CO detector in your home. CO detectors are similar in appearance to smoke detectors. The detectors sound an alarm to alert occupants to elevated levels of CO in he home. CO detectors usually range in price from $20 - $50 and can be purchased at a variety of hardware, home improvement, and other retail stores.
- Have a professional inspect your furnace annually.
- Have your chimney regularly cleaned by a professional.
- Properly vent all gas appliances and space heaters.
- Use proper fuel in space heaters.
- Make sure burner flames in furnaces and stove are blue, not yellow or orange.
If you have any questions, call us at 586-469-5236, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. or E-mail us now.
Center for Disease Control
Environmental Protection Agency