Dangers of Carbon Monoxide
The great danger of carbon monoxide is its attraction to hemoglobin in the bloodstream. When breathed in, carbon monoxide bonds with the hemoglobin in the blood, displacing the oxygen. When CO is present in the air, it rapidly accumulates in the blood, forming a toxic compound known as carboxyhemoglobin (COHb). Carboxyhemoglobin causes symptoms similar to the flu, such as:
- Dizzy spells
As levels of CHOb increase, vomiting, loss of consciousness and eventually brains damage or death can result.
What Carbon Monoxide Is
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and toxic gas produced as a by-product of combustion. Any fuel-burning appliance, vehicle, tool or other device has the potential to produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide gas. Examples of carbon monoxide producing devices commonly in use around the home include:
- Charcoal grills
- Fireplaces and woodstoves
- Fuel-fired furnaces (non-electric)
- Gas dryers
- Gas stoves
- Gas water heaters
- Lawnmowers and other yard equipment
Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC)
The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that approximately 200 people per year are killed by accidental CO poisoning with an additional 5,000 people injured. These deaths and injuries are typically caused by improperly used or malfunctioning equipment aggravated by improvements in building construction that limit the amount of fresh air flowing into homes and other structures.
Maintenance & Inspection
While regular maintenance and inspection of gas burning equipment in the home can minimize the potential for exposure to CO gas, the possibility for some type of sudden failure resulting in a potential life threatening build up of gas always exists.