Carbon Monoxide

What is carbon monoxide (CO)?

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odorless gas. It is a by-product of incomplete combustion, such as natural gas, liquid fuels, and anything that burns.

Should I be concerned?

When a person inhales carbon monoxide, its absorbed into the body the same way that oxygen is. The carbon monoxide replaces the oxygen in the hemoglobin of the blood, depriving the body of oxygen. Results are increased heart rate as it tries to satisfy the body’s need for oxygen to the brain and vital organs.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of long-term exposure to low concentrations are slight headaches, fatigue and shortness of breath with only moderate exertion. Continued exposure or high concentrations can result in severe headaches, breathing difficulties, dizziness, confusion, cardiac trauma, brain damage and ultimately death.

What do I do?

If you are feeling any of these, it is important to get out into the fresh air and seek medical attention. Unconscious victims should be at once evacuated, and emergency services notified.

How do I reduce the risk?

To help reduce the risk of exposure to carbon monoxide in your home, fuel (oil/wood) burning appliances should be inspected by a qualified technician. Gas burning appliances that do not have a steady blue flame need service as soon as possible.