What Is Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide or CO is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. Due to this fact, it is very hard to detect the presence of CO in your environment. It is, however, imperative that the CO levels in your home are carefully monitored. Even at relatively low levels, CO is poisonous because it rapidly accumulates in the blood thereby depleting its ability to carry oxygen. Extreme cases of CO poisoning result in death.
Where does carbon monoxide come from?
CO is a common by product of the combustion of fossil fuels. When properly installed and maintained, most fuel burning equipment (natural gas, propane or oil) will produce insignificant amounts of CO.
At what level does carbon monoxide become toxic?
For healthy adults, CO becomes toxic when it reaches a level higher than 50 ppm (parts per million) with continuous exposure over an eight hour period.. When the level of CO becomes higher than that, a person will suffer from symptoms of exposure. Mild exposure over a few hours (a CO level between 70 ppm and 100 ppm) include flu-like symptoms such as headaches, sore eyes and a runny nose. Medium exposure (a CO level between 150 ppm to 300 ppm) will produce dizziness, drowsiness and vomiting. Extreme exposure (a CO level of 400 ppm and higher) will result in unconsciousness, brain damage and death.
How to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning
* have a qualified technician install and regularly inspect all fuel burning appliances
* regularly inspect fireplaces and chimneys to insure proper ventilation
* never use a gas or charcoal barbeque indoors
* never start a car or gas run lawnmower or snow blower in a closed garage.
* install a carbon monoxide detector in your home.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Low levels of carbon monoxide poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning or other illnesses and can have a long term health risk if left unattended. Some of the symptoms are the following.
- Shortness of breath
- Mild nausea
- Mild headaches
Moderate levels of CO exposure can cause death if the following symptoms persist for a long measure of time.
High levels of CO can be fatal causing death within minutes.
There are immediate measures you can take to help those suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Get the victim into fresh air immediately.
- If you cannot get the people out of the house, then open all windows and doors. Any combustion appliances should be turned off.
- Take those who were subjected to carbon monoxide to a hospital emergency room as quickly as possible. A simple blood test will be able to determine if carbon monoxide poisoning has occurred.