Carbon monoxide (CO), is a toxic gas that is colorless and odorless. You can’t see it, taste it, or smell its toxic fumes, but it can kill you before you are even aware of its presence. Exposure to carbon monoxide can affect people differently based on age, overall health, and the concentration and length of exposure.
Where Does Carbon Monoxide Come From?
When people think of the negative effects of air pollution, they usually think of outdoor pollution. However, indoor air quality will also impact your health. The following are some potential indoor sources of carbon monoxide:
- Gas stoves
- Gas powered equipment and generators
- Smoking tobacco
- Leaking chimneys and furnaces
- Automobile smoke trapped in garages
- Incomplete combustion of fuels
- Back-drafting from furnaces, gas water heaters, and fireplaces
What Are the Health Effects Related to Carbon Monoxide?
The health effects of carbon monoxide depend on several factors, including the concentration of carbon monoxide, length of exposure, and health of the individual. When carbon monoxide is experienced at low concentrations, healthy people may feel fatigued, and people with heart disease may get chest pain. When Carbon monoxide is experienced at moderate concentrations you might experience angina, impaired vision, and lowered brain function. When carbon monoxide is experienced at high concentrations you may experience:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Impaired vision and coordination
What Are Average Levels of Carbon Monoxide in Your Home?
The average level of carbon monoxide in your home can vary between 0.5 to 5 parts per million (ppm). A properly adjusted stove should have carbon monoxide levels between 5 to 15 ppm while a poorly adjusted stove may put out 30 ppm or more of carbon monoxide. Levels of carbon monoxide over 400 ppm are dangerous to human health.
How Can You Detect Carbon Monoxide?
Because carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, carbon monoxide detectors are the best way to detect and help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. It is easy to install carbon monoxide detectors in your home, and they work much like fire or smoke alarms by sounding an alarm when they detect elevated levels of carbon monoxide.
You’ll find detectors with different types of sensors that set off the detector in various ways. Biometric sensors use a gel that will change color when carbon monoxide is absorbed, and this triggers an alarm. Metal oxide semiconductors feature a silica chip that lowers electrical resistance when it detects carbon monoxide. Finally, electrochemical sensors use electrodes that are immersed in a chemical solution. They detect changes in electrical currents when they come into contact with carbon monoxide, and this change triggers the alarm.
How Can You Reduce Carbon Monoxide in Your Home?
The most important way to reduce carbon monoxide levels in your home is to make sure you keep fossil-fuel-powered equipment maintained and adjusted properly. It is also important not to run vehicles too close to your home or keep vehicles idling for excessive time periods in an attached garage or similar structure.
Additionally, you should never run a generator inside your home, garage, crawlspaces, shed, or similar locations. Carbon monoxide concentrations can rapidly build up in these confined spaces, and increased concentrations can become deadly and will linger for hours, even after the generator has been turned off.
Additional ways to reduce exposure to carbon monoxide include keeping gas appliances adjusted properly and buying a vented space heater when replacing an unvented one. It’s also important to use the correct fuel in kerosene space heaters and to install and use an exhaust fan over stoves. Moreover, you should make sure that the flue is opened when using a fireplace and have a trained professional inspect, clean, and tune-up central heating systems annually. That’s where Weather Masters comes in.
Where Can You Go for Help With Carbon Monoxide Readiness?
Weather Masters serves Frederick MD and the surrounding areas. Our experienced team can help to ensure that your home has the best carbon monoxide detectors and equipment to protect your family from this dangerous toxic gas.