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What is Carbon Monoxide

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Carbon monoxide or CO is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. Due to this fact, it is very hard to detect the presence of CO in your environment. It is, however, imperative that the CO levels in your home are carefully monitored. Even at relatively low levels, CO is poisonous because it rapidly accumulates in the blood thereby depleting its ability to carry oxygen. Extreme cases of CO poisoning result in death.

Where does carbon monoxide come from? CO is a common byproduct of the combustion of fossil fuels. When properly installed and maintained, most fuel burning equipment (natural gas, propane or oil) will produce insignificant amounts of CO.

At what level does carbon monoxide become toxic? For healthy adults CO becomes toxic when it reaches a level higher than 10 ppm (parts per million) with continuous exposure over an eight hour period.. When the level of CO becomes higher than that a person will suffer from symptoms of exposure. Mild exposure over 2-3 hours (a CO level between 10 ppm and 200 ppm) will produce flu-like symptoms such as headaches, sore eyes and a runny nose. Medium exposure (a CO level between 200 ppm to 800 ppm) will produce dizziness, drowsiness and vomiting in as little as 1 hour. This level of exposure is deemed to be life threatening once three hours has passed. Extreme exposure (a CO level of 800 ppm and higher) will result in unconsciousness, brain damage and death in as little as a few minutes.

How to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning – have a qualified technician install and regularly inspect all fuel burning systems in your home.


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