Carbon Monoxide

What is carbon monoxide? Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and highly poisonous gas. CO is a bi-product of incomplete combustion. Primary sources include furnaces, hot water heaters, gas stoves, fireplaces, wood burners, kerosene heaters, tobacco smoke and automobiles.

The health effects of CO poisoning are often very slight and overlooked as everyday medical complaints. CO poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States. CO poisoning occurs because the hemoglobin (the part of the blood that carries oxygen) absorbs CO 200 times faster than it can absorb oxygen. Fetuses, infants, elderly people, and people with anemia or a history of heart or respiratory disease can be especially susceptible. CO can produce many symptoms including:

  • Respiratory ailments
  • Confusion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unconsciousness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Sleep disorders
  • Lack of Judgement
  • Fainting
  • Feeling light headed
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Death

Know the symptoms of CO poisoning. At moderate levels, you and your family could get severe headaches, become dizzy, mentally confused, nauseous or faint. You can even die if these levels persist for a long time. Low levels can cause shortness of breath, mild nausea, mild headaches and may have long term effects on your health. Since many of these symptoms are similar to those of the flu, food poisoning or other illnesses, you may not think CO poisoning could be the cause.

MINIMIZE YOUR CHANCE OF CO EXPOSURE! Service your combustion appliances regularly, consider buying a CO detector and have your home inspected periodically by a company like AC & E.