Facts About Carbon Monoxide
When CO is inhaled and introduced to the bloodstream, it takes the place of oxygen at a rate of 300:1 and literally suffocates its victim. Since CO is an accumulative and direct reacting toxin, it can be dangerous even at low levels over longer periods of time. The harmful effects of CO inhalation depend upon the following factors:
- Concentration of CO in the air
- Length of time exposed to CO gas
- The health, age, sex, and weight of the individual being exposed
The following chart shows the maximum allowable exposure limits and the effects of carbon monoxide exposure over time:
- The equipment is not burning fuel properly due to damage, failure, neglect, or improper installation
- Poorly ventilated living areas
- Outdoor pollutants accumulating in the indoor environment
Due to its lack of taste, smell, color, or odor; it is imperative that home heating, cooling, and ventilation equipment is regularly inspected and serviced. Modern homes are better insulated, thus making it easier for pollutants and toxins to accumulate in the home environment. Additionally, be sure to have properly-installed operational detector alarms, which provide audible and visual signals in the event a dangerous build-up of CO is detected.
For more information read the Frequently Asked Questions posted on the Center for Disease Control’s website, as well as the Carbon Monoxide Q&A featured on the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website.