Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly, colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. It is produced by the incomplete burning of various fuels, including coal, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, propane, and natural gas. On average, about 1,500 people in the United States die every year due to accidental carbon dioxide poisoning produced by non-automotive consumer products. These products include malfunctioning fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, ranges, water heaters, and room heaters, engine-powered equipment such as portable generators, fireplaces, and charcoal that is burned in homes.
With today’s tightly sealed and well insulated homes, carbon monoxide can accumulate to hazardous levels in a short period of time. Therefore, it’s critical to have working carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Other fuel burning appliances such as gas water heaters, dryers, and other appliances should also be checked to ensure they are properly vented to the outside of the house. United Service Specialists’ skilled and knowledgeable technicians can easily install carbon monoxide detectors, investigate for sources of CO from fuel burning equipment and appliances, and inspect for proper operation of this equipment.
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The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. CO symptoms are often described as “flu-like.” If you breathe in a lot of CO it can make you pass out or kill you. People who are sleeping can die from CO poisoning before they have symptoms.
The health effects of CO depend on the CO concentration and length of exposure, as well as each individual’s health condition. CO concentration is measured in parts per million (ppm). Most people will not experience any symptoms from prolonged exposure to CO levels of approximately 1 to 70 ppm but some heart patients might experience an increase in chest pain. As CO levels increase and remain above 70 ppm, symptoms become more noticeable and can include headache, fatigue, and nausea. At sustained CO concentrations above 150 to 200 ppm, disorientation, unconsciousness, and death are possible.