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Carbon Monoxide

Alliance Indoor Air Quality

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, invisible gas. Carbon Monoxide results from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, such as wood, kerosene, charcoal, propane, natural gas and oil.

Where is Carbon Monoxide Found?

Carbon monoxide is present in low levels in the air. In the home, it is formed from incomplete combustion from any flame-fueled (not electric) device, including ranges, ovens, clothes dryers, furnaces, fireplaces, grills, space heaters, vehicles and water heaters. Furnaces and water heaters may be sources of carbon monoxide, but if they are vented properly, the carbon monoxide will escape to the outside. Open flames, such as from ovens and ranges, are the most common source of carbon monoxide. Vehicles are the most common cause of carbon monoxide poisoning.

How Do Carbon Monoxide Detectors Work?

Carbon monoxide detectors trigger an alarm based on an accumulation of carbon monoxide over time. Carbon monoxide can harm you if you are exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide in a short period of time, or to lower levels of carbon monoxide over a long period of time. HOMECONTACT USFrequently Asked QuestionsOnline OrderingservicesMonthly Carbon monoxide detectors require a continuous power supply, so if the power shuts off then the alarm becomes ineffective. Models are available that offer back-up battery power.

Why is Carbon Monoxide Dangerous?

Alliance Indoor Air Quality

When carbon monoxide is inhaled, is passes from the lungs to the red blood cells. That forms carboxyhemoglobin, which interferes with the oxygen transport and gas exchange abilities of red blood cells. The body becomes oxygen-starved, which can result in tissue damage and death. Low levels of carbon monoxide poisoning cause symptoms similar to those of the cold or flu, including shortness of breath on mild exertion, mild headaches and nausea. Higher levels of poisoning lead to dizziness, mental confusion, severe headaches, nausea, and fainting upon mild exertion. Ultimately, carbon monoxide poisoning can result in unconsciousness, permanent brain damage and death. Carbon monoxide detectors are set to sound an alarm before the exposure to carbon monoxide would present a hazard to a healthy adult. Babies, children, pregnant women, people with circulatory or respiratory ailments and the elderly are more sensitive to carbon monoxide than healthy adults.

Where Should I Place a Carbon Monoxide Detector?

Detectors should be placed about 5 feet above the floor. The detector may be placed on the ceiling. Do not place the detector right next to or over a fireplace or flame-producing appliance. Keep the detector out of the way of children and pets. Each floor needs a separate detector. If you get a single detector, place it near the sleeping area and make sure the alarm is loud enough to wake you up.

What Do I Do if the Alarm Sounds?

Don't ignore the alarm! It is intended to go off before you are experiencing symptoms. Silence the alarm, get all members of the household to fresh air, and ask whether anyone is experiencing any of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. If anyone is experiencing symptoms, call 911. If no one has symptoms, ventilate the building, identify and remedy the source of the carbon monoxide before returning inside, and have appliances or chimneys checked by a professional as soon as possible.

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