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10 Things to Know About Carbon Monoxide

Posted in Air Quality, on April 19, 2021

Carbon monoxide is one of the most common and dangerous pollutants found during air quality testing. Still, after years of education about its dangers, some of us have forgotten just how easily it can build up in our homes. At SafeAir, we do carbon monoxide, mold, or radon testing in residential and commercial buildings. These easy tests are simple to perform and won’t disrupt your day — in fact, they may even save your life.  Here are ten things you should know about carbon monoxide at home. 

Practically Undetectable

1. The main danger of carbon monoxide is that it’s almost undetectable to the human senses. You cannot see, smell, hear, or taste carbon monoxide in the atmosphere, and we often rely on these senses to know when something is wrong. 

2. When you inhale carbon monoxide, the tiny particles enter your bloodstream and prevent your red blood cells from carrying oxygen.

3. The only ways to accurately detect carbon monoxide are installing a carbon monoxide alarm in your home or having air quality testing done.. In Ontario, a working carbon monoxide law isn’t just a good practice; it’s also the law. Carbon monoxide alarms can be purchased at any hardware store. 

How to Protect Your Family from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

4. There are nearly 500 deaths and serious hospitalizations every year in Canada caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. The vast majority of these are easily preventable. 

5. Carbon monoxide is created by using dirty or damaged fuel-burning appliances like wood-burning stoves, furnaces, or cooking appliances. You should never use appliances like barbecues indoors or in spaces with poor ventilation. 

6. Install your carbon monoxide alarm in a hallway near the bedrooms. Most of the deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning happen during the night when a lack of oxygen overcomes sleepers. An alarm placed outside of the bedroom can wake you in time to get your family to safety. 

Adequate Levels of CO

7. While there are no safe carbon monoxide levels indoors, it’s generally understood that anything under 100 parts per million is a natural part of the living environment and will not cause serious health impacts. 

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

8. The initial symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include: drowsiness, headaches, burning eyes, nausea and shortness of breath. 

9. If there are unsafe levels of carbon monoxide in your home, you may notice that you experience symptoms only when indoors — and that they clear up or disappear when you leave the house. 

10. Some of the physical signs that may indicate an appliance is producing carbon monoxide include: yellow or orange pilot lights on gas appliances, white and chalky soot build-up, stale air, or excessive moisture. 

If any of this sounds familiar, it might be time to book an indoor air quality test with SafeAir. We can assess your home for carbon monoxide risks and other possible air quality issues like radon, VOCs, mold, dust, or pesticides.

For any of your air quality testing questions, speak to a SafeAir technician over the phone at 415-414-5690. 

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