- It is an odorless, colorless, toxic gas.
- Every year in the United States, 500 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning and more than 2,000 commit suicide by intentionally poisoning themselves with the gas.
- Can cause sudden illness or death before anyone knows they are being exposed
Sources of CO:
- Unvented kerosene and gas space heaters
- Leaking chimneys and furnaces
- Back-drafting from furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces
- Gas stoves
- Generators and other gasoline powered equipment
- Automobile exhaust from attached garages, nearby roads, or parking areas
- Tobacco smoke
Symptoms of CO poisoning:
- Lower levels
- Flu-like symptoms- headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, confusion, fatigue
- Higher levels
o Harmful effects by reducing oxygen delivery to the body’s organs and tissues
o Impair vision and coordination, hypotension, lethal arrhythmias, pulmonary edema
o Immediate death
Standards and Guidelines:
- No standards have been established for indoor air
- Average levels in homes without gas stoves vary from 0.5 to 5 ppm
- Levels near properly adjusted gas stoves are often 5 to 15 ppm
- Levels near poorly adjusted stoves may be 30 ppm or higher
- Outdoor air
o 9 ppm for 8 hours
o 35 ppm for 1 hour
Who is at risk?
- Especially, unborn babies, infants, children, senior citizens
- People with heart or lung problems
What to do if CO poisoning is suspected:
- Evacuate all occupants immediately
- Determine how many people are ill and their symptoms
- Call your local emergency number
- DO NOT re-enter the facility without the approval of a fire department representative
- Call a qualified professional to repair the source of CO
Steps to reduce risk of CO poisoning:
- Keep gas appliances properly adjusted
- Replace unvented space heaters with vented ones
- 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 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission standards
- Have a trained professional inspect, clean, and tune-up central heating system
- DO NOT idle vehicles inside garage
- NEVER use your range or oven to help heat your home
- Install a battery-operated CO detector in your home and check or replace batteries when you change the time on your clock each spring and fall
CO in the New River Valley:
- The New River Valley is ranked in the 80-90th percentile as being one of the worst places in the United States for carbon monoxide emissions.
- Most homes located in the area do not have carbon monoxide detectors.
- There are hundreds of calls each year to the fire department for suspected carbon monoxide poisonings.
- If you live in the New River Valley, you can make a difference in your environment by following some of the simple steps listed above to reduce carbon monoxide poisoning.
EPA™s Efforts to Reduce CO:
- 1970- Clean Air Act sets first auto emissions standards
- 1974- EPA sets fuel economy standards
- 1975- First catalytic converters are used for CO and hydrocarbons, first use of unleaded gas in catalyst-equipped cars
- 1983- Vehicle inspection and maintenance programs established in 64 cities
- 1990- Clean Air Act Amendments set new tailpipe standards.
- 1992- Oxyfuel introduced in cities with high CO levels
- 1994- Phase-in of new vehicle standards and technologies begins
- EPA has also set 2 national health protection standards for CO as mentioned above in standards and guidelines
Links for Further Information: