Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that is colorless, odorless and tasteless. While smoke inhalation from fires is a common cause of CO poisoning, cigarette smoke and vehicle exhaust are the most common sources of CO exposure. Almost every combustible material produces CO, so even items like tobacco, fibers or paper produce the gas. When fuels like gasoline, coal, wood, charcoal, kerosene, propane, heating oil and even natural gas are burned in your home, it is especially important to maintain proper ventilation to ensure that CO does not accumulate.
Any fuel-burning equipment or appliances, including wood stoves, fireplaces, space heaters, barbecue grills, furnaces, water heaters, boilers or ranges have the potential to produce CO, but when natural gas equipment is installed, operated and maintained, it usually will not produce CO.
Sometimes there are physical signs when CO is present in a building. These can include unusually high indoor humidity, stuffy or stale indoor air, water or soot collecting near a vent or burner and persistent heavy condensation on walls or windows. There are also physical symptoms of exposure, depending on the amount of CO in the bloodstream. (The higher the concentration is, the higher the danger is.) The severity of the physical symptoms will vary depending on age, general health, level of physical activity and duration and concentration of exposure.
Slight headache Vomiting Nausea Fatigue Blurred Vision Flu-like symptoms that disappear when fresh air is breathed
Drowsiness Confusion Severe headache Rapid heart rate
Convulsions Unconsciousness Cardiac/respiratory arrest
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