What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide, known as the silent killer, is an odourless, colourless gas produced by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels (wood, oil, gas, or coal). This occurs when a gas appliance has been incorrectly fitted, badly repaired or poorly maintained, or when flues, chimneys or vents are blocked – thus not allowing for airflow.
Where does it come from?
Carbon monoxide is produced by the burning of fossil fuels. Any appliance that burns fossil fuels can potentially be a source of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is normally associated with improper operation or poor ventilation of appliances.
How does it affect our health?
Everyone is at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning though children, the elderly, and people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or breathing problems are more susceptible to adverse effects.
When carbon monoxide enters the bloodstream it prevents blood cells from carrying oxygen. This causes an onset of symptoms similar to that of oxygen deprivation, including headaches, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.
Since these symptoms are flu-like in nature, they are often ignored or misdiagnosed. Herein lies the danger. Large amounts of carbon monoxide can cause people to pass out, and without proper attention, it can be difficult to recover from this state.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can be prevented by ensuring proper use and maintenance of all devices running on fossil fuels and by supplying a constant flow of fresh air into your indoor spaces. Battery operated detectors can also be installed to detect spikes of carbon monoxide.