Carbon monoxide is known as the “silent killer” mainly due to its characteristics as a colorless and odorless gas. Exposure to this poison on a consistent basis can result in dangerous health problems leading to death. Carbon monoxide, CO, kills because it interrupts the transference of oxygenated blood to the internal organs. Since many people have not been informed of the threat of CO, they do not typically have alarms that monitor in-house carbon monoxide levels. Many appliances produce or emit CO, so it is important to be aware of the gases presence in the home and make sure levels stay within the realm of safety.
Not everyone will react the same to carbon monoxide poisoning. A small dose of CO should not cause a negative health reaction. A moderate amount of exposure can lead to symptoms of vision loss, headaches, dizziness, or an upset stomach. High levels of the gas can culminate in problems with the cardiovascular and central nervous systems. Some individuals, including those that are in excellent health, will suffer loss of brain function from exposure to an excessive amount.
Most homes have some capacity to create this poison. Relatively low levels are around 0.5 to 5 parts per million (ppm). Levels near sources of CO, such as a gas oven or wood stove, can be around 5 to 15 ppm. High levels, usually found around poorly adjusted stoves or furnaces, are considered 30 ppm or higher. You can also find high levels in kerosene and gas heaters, leaking chimneys and furnaces, fireplaces, generators and other gasoline-powered equipment and automobile exhaust. Worn or improperly fitted combustion devices, such as furnaces, are also another common source of high levels.
There are many avenues to ensure that no harm comes to your family from carbon monoxide. Make certain that all of your appliances such as dryers, stoves, furnaces and so on are adjusted against leaks on a regular basis. If you use a space heater, make sure that it is vented. Use an exhaust fan with a gas stove to make sure you are venting the fumes emissions. If you own a woodstove, check to see that it is passes follows the standards of the EPA regulations on carbon monoxide emissions. Paying particular attention to your homes source of heat can make the difference in life or death since these appliances are major culprits in emissions. Have your furnace, woodstove, boiler or chimney serviced regularly to decrease your chances of over exposure. A carbon monoxide alarm is another great preventative measure you can take to insure the safety of your family from this deadly poison.