Every winter, we hear the news of another person or family who has died as a result of carbon monoxide in their homes. It is a sad reminder of how dangerous it is!
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas often formed in the process of incomplete combustion of organic substances. It is dangerous because it interferes with normal oxygen uptake for humans and other living organisms needing oxygen to live. It can build up to dangerous concentrations indoors when fuel-burning devices are not properly vented, operated, or maintained. It is estimated that unintentional CO exposure accounts for an estimated 500 deaths in the United States each year. Breathed over long periods of time, low concentrations of CO may also contribute to other illness. Fortunately, simple measures can be taken to prevent CO problems.
CO is produced when any material burns, particularly when there isn’t enough oxygen for efficient burning. Common sources of CO in homes include fuel-burning devices such as: furnaces, gas or kerosene space heaters, boilers, gas cooking stoves, water heaters, clothes dryers, fireplaces, charcoal grills, wood stoves, lawn mowers, power generators, camp stoves, motor vehicles and some power tools with internal combustion engines. Smoking is another common source of CO that can negatively impact indoor air quality.