Of all the indoor air quality (IAQ) issues that have an immediate impact on both short- and long-term health, carbon monoxide poisoning tops the list. At high levels, it’s fatal for all oxygen-breathing animals, including humans, and it can cause damaging effects at lower levels for sensitive populations. It comes from incomplete combustion of any kind of fuel, like charcoal, natural gas and vehicle exhaust.
Facts About Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- Carbon monoxide (CO) is such a danger because it’s slightly smaller than oxygen, and quickly replaces it in the blood. This gas has no taste, odor, or color and the only way to know it’s present is with CO detectors. The detectors need to be at eye-level or higher, since CO rises, since it weighs slightly less than air. Check the batteries monthly because they wear out faster than a smoke detector’s batteries. If your home only has one, place it within 15 feet of the master bedroom.
- CO accumulates inside enclosed spaces. As CO builds, it won’t dissipate unless there’s a source of fresh air equal to the amount of CO being created. Whenever your home is tightly closed, even in the summer, CO can build to unhealthy levels.
- Symptoms can be vague. Fatigue is a common reaction, as are flu-like symptoms. Sensitive groups, like the very young and old, or those with heart conditions, may not even notice signs of low level CO exposure. These groups aren’t as capable of tolerating carbon monoxide poisoning, since their respirator and cardiac systems aren’t as developed or are compromised.
Avoiding the Risk of CO Poisoning
Besides having at least one reliable CO detector in your home, you can avoid the risk of CO poisoning by having:
- Your gas appliances serviced including your gas heating system for maximum efficiency and safety.
- Your home’s ductwork professionally inspected for leaks sealed tightly. Leaky ducts can pull CO into your home’s air by backdrafting any vented gas appliances, summer and winter, like the dryer, water heater and furnace.
For more information on avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning, contact ACS Absolute Comfort. We’ve provided top-notch HVAC services for Houston-area homeowners since 2007.
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