What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous, odorless, tasteless, colourless gas. It is found in such everyday sources as tobacco smoke, exhaust from motor vehicles, industrial processes, inefficient home heating, barbecues and fires. The hazard of carbon monoxide is universal, and exists, to some degree, in all industries and homes.
Carbon monoxide (also known as CO) is a gas that causes illness and can lead to death. It has no:
The gas is made whenever you burn fuel like:
- natural gas
It’s also contained in second-hand smoke.
Carbon monoxide can cause health problems before you even notice that it’s present. Breathing it in reduces your body’s ability to carry oxygen in your blood. Exposure to the gas can cause carbon monoxide poisoning (CO poisoning) and can be dangerous to your health.
At low levels, effects include flu-like symptoms, such as:
- shortness of breath
- impaired motor functions, such as:
- muscle weakness
- partial or total loss of function of a body part (limb or limbs)
At high levels, or if you are exposed to low levels for long periods of time, you can experience:
- chest pain
- poor vision
- difficulty thinking
At very high levels, it can cause:
You Can Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure
- Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
- Install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall.
- Leave your home immediately and call 911 if your CO detector ever sounds. Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseated.