Technology Snapshot & Benefits:
to as the silent killer, carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless,
colorless and toxic gas. Labeled the silent killer because it is impossible to
see, taste or smell the toxic fumes; CO can kill you before you are aware it is
in your home. When exposed to low levels of carbon monoxide it causes mild
effects that are often mistaken for the flu. These symptoms include headaches,
dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue. The effects of CO exposure can
vary greatly from one person to another, based on factors such as age, overall
health and the concentration and length of exposure.
Carbon monoxide is produced whenever fuels such as gas, oil,
kerosene, wood, or charcoal are burned. Incomplete oxidation during the
combustion process in gas ranges and unvented gas or kerosene heater may cause
high concentrations of CO in indoor air. Execute caution and take preventative
measures when combustion of any sort is occurring within the home, make sure
systems are properly ventilated and areas of the home are adequately covered by
carbon monoxide detectors.
Estimated Cost Savings:
The cost of
taking proper preventative measures throughout a home far outweighs the possible
health risks associated with carbon monoxide poisoning, including death.
Reference the below section to see steps to reduce exposure of CO. Beyond
reducing exposure, the other way you can help keep your home CO safe is by
installing proper measurement technologies, such as carbon monoxide detectors.
Use of CO detectors can help to alert members of the household when levels of CO
have reached a level that is dangerous and that they should get outside and into
the fresh air as quickly as possible and call 911 and state the situation.
of carbon monoxide detectors is important. If planning to install only one in
the household, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends it be
located near the sleeping area, where it can wake you if you are asleep.
Additional detectors on every floor and in every bedroom of a home provide extra
protection against CO poisoning. Depending on the model and manufacturer of your
CO detector, technologies should be updated regularly (reference the manual) as
detectors are constantly improving and becoming more efficient.
Steps to Reduce Exposure:
It is most
important to make sure that combustion equipment is maintained and working
properly. Vehicular use near buildings and homes should be carefully managed and
monitored. Creating additional ventilation can be used as a temporary relief
when high levels of CO are expected for short periods of time. The EPA has the
following suggestions to help prevent and reduce exposure to carbon monoxide:
Keep gas appliances properly adjusted.
Consider purchasing a vented space heater when
replacing an unvented one.
Use proper fuel in kerosene space heaters.
Install and use an exhaust fan vented to
outdoors over gas stoves.
Open flues when fireplaces are in use.
Choose properly sized wood stoves that are
certified to meet EPA emission standards. Make certain that the doors on all
wood stoves fit tightly.
Have a trained professional inspect, clean, and
tune-up central heating system (furnaces, flues, and chimneys) annually.
Repair any leaks promptly.
Do not idle the car inside garage.
Never use a generator inside
homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas.
Err on the side of caution when it comes to carbon monoxide
prevention. Take the extra steps to ensure your home is properly set up to vent
all household combustion based appliances and systems. Set up the house with
adequate CO detectors which will indicate if an issue is arising and test these
systems regularly. Many of these CO detectors are battery powered. Follow the
manufacturer's guidelines on battery replacement. If guidelines provided here,
and throughout the more information links found at the bottom of this page are
followed to best of the homeowners abilities issues and risks should be
minimized to a level that is safe and manageable.
Installation (Getting It
Contact a local HVAC or home heating expert to have your home
annually checked for proper ventilation of heating and other combustion based
systems. Installing carbon monoxide detectors is a do-it-yourself project and
detectors can be found in most hardware and some general stores. Make sure to
test your detectors regularly and to have your home tested for proper
More Information on This Topic:
An Introduction to Indoor Air Quality: Carbon Monoxide
Protect Your Family and Yourself from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Product Safety Commission -
Carbon Monoxide Questions & Answers
Center for Disease
Control and Prevention -
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Placement of Carbon Monoxide Detectors Important