What is carbon monoxide and why is it so dangerous?


Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless and poisonous gas that results when natural gas and other fuels burn without sufficient oxygen.

Affect on the Body

Carbon monoxide is an asphyxiate and prevents needed oxygen from traveling throughout the body. Carbon monoxide combines more readily with hemoglobin (blood) than oxygen, thus disrupting oxygen transport. Carbon monoxide levels in the blood vary with carbon monoxide exposure levels, length of exposure and physiological factors.

Elevated levels of carbon monoxide can cause illness and even death. The elderly and persons with cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases are particularly sensitive to elevated levels of carbon monoxide.

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include nausea, headaches, and fatigue; these symptoms are often mistaken for the flu. Persons exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide need fresh air immediately and should be removed from the hazardous environment.

Actions to Take upon Suspected Exposure

If you suspect elevated levels of carbon monoxide are in your home and you feel ill, you should go to a neighbor’s house and call 911. The fire department will test for levels of elevated carbon monoxide in your home to determine if it is safe to re-enter.

Show All Answers

1. What is carbon monoxide and why is it so dangerous?
2. How can I determine if there are elevated levels of carbon monoxide in my home?
3. Where should I install a carbon monoxide detector?
4. How can I prevent carbon monoxide buildup in my home in the first place?