About Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and Other Resources

How does Carbon Monoxide harm you?

Quite simply, carbon monoxide prevents oxygen from being used by your body. Carbon monoxide is poisonous and can harm your central nervous system.

Who is at Risk?

Everyone is at risk of being poisoned by carbon monoxide. However, individuals with existing health problems such as heart and lung disease and the elderly are especially vulnerable. Infants, children and pregnant women are also at risk.

You are exposed to Carbon Monoxide when:

  • You leave your car, truck, or van running.
  • You burn charcoal, alcohol or gasoline in an enclosed test, camper or room.
  • You smoke a cigar, cigarette, or pipe.
  • You home contains an incorrectly vented or malfunctioning hot water heater, furnace, space heater, fireplace or stove.

How Much is Too Much?

These levels should be referenced to the effects on healthy people. Health effects can vary significantly based on age, sex, weight, and overall state of health.

PPM = parts per million molecules of air

  • 12,000 PPM - Death within 1 – 3 minutes
  • 1600 PPM - Nausea within 20 minutes, death within 1 hour
  • 800 PPM - Nausea and convulsions – death within 2 hours
  • 400 PPM - Frontal headaches 1-2 hours life threatening within 3 hours
  • 50 PPM - Maximum level for continuous exposure in an 8 hour workday
  • 10–35 PPM - Marginal Small children, elderly, and those suffering respiratory or heart problems
  • 9 PPM - The concentration often found on busy city streets
  • 1 – 9 PPM - Any increase of CO from outside warrants further investigation but may not be an immediate health risk

The CPSC* (Consumer Products Safety Commission) recommends that consumers have their furnaces, water heaters, and other fuel-burning appliances inspected yearly by a qualified service professional.

Chairman Ann Brown says. "And every home should have at least one CO detector that meets the requirements of the most recent Underwriters Laboratories standards." *CPSC 1997

** Underwriters Laboratories standards are not adequate to protect infants, the elderly, smokers, and individuals in generally poor health.

Remember there are many more possible sources & causes of Carbon Monoxide

* Common household appliances should not normally produce Carbon Monoxide, but CO production is possible if they are malfunctioning or not vented properly.

Have all combustion appliances tested yearly.