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EMS - Carbon Monixide

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas, created when any fuel is burned, such as; gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil, wood, coal and even tobacco.  When combustion air is limited, more CO is produced.  Serious problems can develop when combustion by-products are not properly vented outside of the house.  At lower levels of exposure, it can cause health problems.  At high levels, it can kill you before you know it, because you can’t see it, taste it or smell it.  Some people may be more vulnerable to CO poisoning such as infants, children, senior citizens and those with heart or lung problems.

When you breathe carbon monoxide, it enters your bloodstream through your lungs and attaches to red blood cells.  These red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body.  CO molecules attach to the red blood cells faster than oxygen, preventing the flow of oxygen to your heart, brain and vital organs.  As carbon monoxide accumulates in your bloodstream, your body becomes starved for oxygen.

Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often mistaken for the flu – headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness and confusion.  However, it should be noted, that if these symptoms disappear after leaving your residence for a period of time, carbon monoxide levels within your residence should be measured.

Carbon monoxide is measured in parts-per-million (ppm).

50 ppm  According to OSHA, the maximum allowable concentration for continuous exposure for healthy adults in any 8-hour period.
200 ppm Mild headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea after 2-3 hours.
400 ppm Frontal headache within 1-2 hours, lifethreatening after 3 hours.
800 ppm Dizziness, nausea and convulsions within 45 minutes.  Unconciousness within 2 hours.
1600 ppm Death within 1 hour.

New carbon monoxide detectors are designed to sound an alarm when the levels reach between 30 – 50 ppm, which gives ample time to take precautions.

New state law

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Page Modified: March 14, 2014 12:27 PM

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