There are various causes of carbon monoxide exposure including faulty boilers and heating equipment, malfunctioning portable generators and running vehicles. A carbon monoxide leak from any of these items could result in carbon monoxide poisoning ending in serious health complications or death.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that often goes undetected. Known as the “silent killer” it is known for catching homeowners off guard or while they sleep. Each year, over 400 Americans suffer death due to accidental exposure to carbon monoxide that results in poisoning.
According to the CDC or Centers for Disease Control, infants, elderly individuals and those with chronic heart disease, anemia or breathing problems are more susceptible to the effects of carbon monoxide. However, the gas does not pick and choose its victims—anyone can be exposed.
Carbon monoxide is silent and serious illness or death can occur before CO is detected. When breathed, it displaces oxygen in the blood and deprives the heart, brain and other organs of critical oxygen. According to OSHA, large amounts of CO can overcome the body in minutes without warning, resulting in loss of consciousness and suffocation.
In recent years, the effects of carbon monoxide have been seen throughout the state of Minnesota:
The effects of carbon monoxide can also be seen nationally:
Did you know that there are myths surrounding carbon monoxide that many often believe? Did you know that having a crack in a boiler is a cause for concern, even with a window open? To learn more about these myths, visit the CO and Safety Myths page.
Carbon monoxide effects increase with the level of CO present. The range of 1-4ppm is the normal level in human tissues produced by the body. Anything greater than 1-4ppm is increased CO and can result in after effects.
Without an approved carbon monoxide detector, these levels of CO will go undetected in homes. It is critical to understand the importance of CO alarms and to know the symptoms associated with exposure.