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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

If you have additional questions about carbon monoxide in your home, please contact Mark Jones at markejones@utah.gov or call (801)-538-6191.
Carbon monoxide (CO) gas is a colorless, odorless gas that can cause sudden illness or death if inhaled. This cause of death is almost entirely preventable if proper measures are taken such as always having a working carbon monoxide detector in your home or work. CO is found in combustion fumes, such as those produced by cars and trucks, small gasoline engines, stoves, lanterns, burning charcoal and wood, gas ranges, and heating systems. Whenever there is a flame or combustion, some deadly carbon monoxide gas can be produced. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces causing people and animals in these spaces to be poisoned by breathing it.
CO poisoning is especially a concern after emergency situations such as power outages or natural disasters because of certain equipment people use that gives off CO. Generators, grills, camp stoves, or other gasoline equipment, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices should never be used inside a home, basement, garage, camper, or even outside near an open window. CO poisoning can also occur outdoors in fresh air and has been reported while boating. In this case, CO poisoning is attributed mostly to generator exhaust that builds up inside and outside a boat in areas near exhaust vents. Dangerous concentrations of CO can accumulate within seconds; therefore, schedule regular engine and exhaust system maintenance with your boat and install and test daily a battery operated CO detector.
When we breathe in oxygen, it binds to the red blood cells. The red blood cells then transport the oxygen all around the body. When CO is breathed in, it binds to the red blood cells quicker than oxygen can. When increasing amounts of CO is breathed in, there is little or no room for oxygen in the blood. A lack of oxygen in the body damages tissues and results in death. Because CO poisoning can happen so quickly, it is imperative that you know the symptoms. Be aware that it can be hard to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to the symptoms of other illnesses. CO poisoning is characterized by headache, diziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. At higher concentrations, CO poisoning can result in loss of consciousness and death. People who are sleeping or intoxicated can die from CO poisoning before ever experiencing symptoms.
Even though everybody is susceptible to CO poisoning, some people are especially vulnerable. Unborn babies, infants and people with respiratory problems, chronic heart disease, or anemia can feel the effects of CO poisoning more so than others.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is completely preventable. Follow these recomendations to reduce your risk:

DO
  • Install a battery-operated or battery backup CO detector in your home. Check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the alarm goes off, leave your home immediately and call 911.
  • Place the CO detectors near every sleeping area in your residence.
  • Have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning. Symptoms include feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseous.


DO NOT
  • Do not use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, tent, or garage or near a window.
  • Do not run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
  • Do not burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn't vented.
  • Do not heat your house with a gas oven.
The Utah EPHT Network looks at the number of emergency department visits and inpatient hospitalizations due to unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning. The UEPHTN also receives Carbon Monoxide exposure information reported to the Poison Control Center. Additionally, The Office of Vital Records and Statistics provides data regarding Carbon Monoxide mortalities.

There is also survey data on how many Utah residents report having at least one carbon monoxide detector in their home.

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The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site (http://epht.health.utah.gov). The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Sun, 26 March 2017 20:47:29 from Utah Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: http://epht.health.utah.gov ".

Content updated: Mon, 13 Feb 2017 13:33:24 MST