A Guide to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Guide to Carbon Monoxide Poisoning (CO Poisoning)

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Carbon Monoxide Sources

Carbon monoxide sources are plentiful. The air we breathe is one such source. A small, non-harmful amount of carbon monoxide is present in the atmosphere produced by such things as volcanic activity, forest fires and man-made fires, and the burning of fossil fuels. Carbon monoxide (CO) is measured in concentrations of parts per million (ppm). The natural level in the atmosphere is 0.1 ppm, and the average level in a household ranges from 0.5 to 5ppm.

Carbon Monoxide Global WarmingGlobal Warming
With the increase of air pollutants, carbon monoxide global warming has now become a relevant and important issue. Pollutants are mainly derived from the exhaust of internal combustion engines and during the careless burning of various types of fuel - that is, the incomplete combustion of materials. The more efficient the combustion process, the less the amount of carbon monoxide produced.

Carbon Monoxide in the Home

The most common carbon monoxide sources in the typical household are the following:

Carbon Monoxide in the Workplace
Some workplaces tend to experience higher emissions of carbon monoxide. Here are a few:

  • Construction sites and warehouses using equipment powered by propane, such as forklifts.
  • Paint shops (certain paints contain methylene chloride, the vapors of which are converted into carbon monoxide when inhaled into the body).
  • Indoor ice arenas that make use of ice resurfacing vehicles.
  • Pottery studios where kilns are utilized.
  • Indoor car shows.
  • All sites using gasoline-powered tools such as welders, chain saws, pressure washers, floor buffers, etc.

In the majority of cases, proper ventilation of buildings, or areas containing a by-product of combustion, is required. Should ventilation be interrupted or halted for a certain period of time, the levels of carbon monoxide can increase and cause potential hazards.

Carbon Monoxide Sources - FireplaceOther Carbon Monoxide Sources
All vehicles, cars, trucks, vans, RV’s, campers, buses, boats and planes that are powered by gasoline/petrol, diesel, natural gas and propane are a recognized source of carbon monoxide.

Many industrial processes produce certain amounts of carbon monoxide, as does everyday cigarette smoke.

Many industrial processes produce certain amounts of carbon monoxide, as does everyday cigarette smoke.

Carbon Monoxide Facts
In 2007, the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported 15,769 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning which resulted in 39 deaths. Many of these incidents were associated with non-automotive products such as the malfunctioning of fuel-burning appliances, engine-powered equipment, and the use of charcoal.

Although control measures for carbon monoxide emission from motor vehicles are in effect, the number of cars and trucks on the road has increased over the years, causing on-going environmental concerns. Approximately three-quarters of emissions in the United States come from motor vehicles such as cars and trucks (around 56%) as well as non-road vehicles such as boats and construction equipment (around 22%).

Carbon monoxide is toxic to both humans and animals. It is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is lighter than air. Due to these characteristics it is difficult to detect its presence. Hence, it is recommended that, along with smoke detectors, homeowners invest in carbon monoxide detectors.



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