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Carbon monoxide is listed as one of the most common air pollutants. This air pollutant may be sourced from motorized vehicles to clothes dryers. With so many potential sources, it is important to understand where it can come from and the solutions to prevent or eliminate it.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that forms when carbon in fuels do not completely burn. Carbon monoxide is produced by any fuel burning appliance, vehicle, tool and more. Many of the potential sources of carbon monoxide come from malfunctioning indoor appliances.
Symptoms may vary based on the concentration of carbon monoxide, length of time you are exposed, and your health. The health effects of carbon monoxide are due to a lack of oxygen within the blood. Once breathed in, CO passes from the lungs into the bloodstream where is attaches to the hemoglobin molecules that normally carry oxygen. Oxygen is unable to travel on a hemoglobin molecule with CO attached, therefore leading to the lack of oxygen. Since the health effects may vary based on CO concentration levels, we have broken them down for you below.
Everyone is at risk when it comes to carbon monoxide, yet there are some more sensitive or exposed than others. Those at a higher risk from CO include infants, elderly, people with cardiovascular disease, anemia, or breathing problems. Each of these groups are more prone to the health effects that come from carbon monoxide.
While those with sensitivities are at higher risk from exposure, there are individuals who are at higher risk due to their exposure levels. If you do not have proper ventilation in your home, malfunctioning products or appliances emitting CO, or live in an area with high levels of CO, this may apply to you.
Carbon monoxide comes from many of the appliances in our homes or vehicles we drive. To be more specific, potential sources of CO include the following:
While there may be a long list of CO sources, fortunately, there are many ways to prevent exposure to those sources. Below, we have listed ways to prevent carbon monoxide exposure from each source.
As listed above, carbon monoxide detectors are one of the many ways to prevent exposure to CO. CO detectors use sensors to detect and alert you to the presence of CO indoor spaces.
There are a variety of types and brands on the market today, making them easily accessible to consumers. Differentiation between types may be of importance depending on what you’re looking for in terms of features and price. Listed below are some of the big factors between types of CO detectors.
Check your local regulations before purchasing the best CO detector for your indoor space. Regulations on CO detectors may include their type or placement. Generally, there should be a CO detector installed on each floor of the home, especially near bedrooms or potential sources of CO.
Both hard-wired and battery-only detectors have batteries, the hard-wired contain them for backup. Batteries should be checked and replaced according to the manufacturer's recommendations. The entire CO detector should be replaced every five years.
As many of the appliances or products in your home can emit CO, it is important to take precautionary steps to limit you and your family’s exposure. CO is just one of many pollutants in your indoor air, backing the reasoning of ensuring proper ventilation and appliance functionality, and investing in an air purifier and detectors to place within your home.