Facts and Figures
Physiology of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
When CO is inhaled, it displaces the oxygen that would ordinarily bind with hemoglobin, suffocating the body. CO can poison slowly over a period of several hours, even in low concentrations. Sensitive organs, such as the brain, heart and lungs, suffer the most from a lack of oxygen.
High concentrations of carbon monoxide can kill in less than five minutes. At low concentrations, it will require a longer period of time to affect the body. Exceeding the EPA concentration of 9 parts per million (ppm) for more than eight hours may have adverse health affects. The limit of CO exposure for healthy workers, as prescribed by the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration, is 50 ppm.
Potential Sources of Carbon Monoxide
Any fuel-burning appliances which are malfunctioning or improperly installed can be a source of CO, such as:
Carbon Monoxide Detector Placement
Carbon monoxide detectors can monitor exposure levels, but do not place them:
Do place carbon monoxide detectors:
In North America, some national, state, and local municipalities require installation of CO detectors in new and existing homes, as well as commercial businesses. These municipalities are: Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Vermont, New York City, and the Canadian province of Ontario. We encourage installers to check with their local municipality to determine specific requirements in their jurisdiction.
How Can I Prevent CO Poisoning?
In summary, carbon monoxide is a dangerous poison that can be created by various household appliances. CO detectors must be placed strategically throughout the home or business to alert occupants of high levels of the gas.
Our Ohio home inspectors can help answer questions concerning carbon monoxide. Contact a home inspector for more information or to schedule an inspection.