Carbon Monoxide or CO is a colourless and odourless but highly poisonous gas that is produced by carbon-based fuel appliances. If your household, or your tenant’s household uses natural gas, LPG, oil or solid fuel for heating or cooking, you should be aware of the danger carbon monoxide poses if heating and cooking equipment isn’t properly installed and maintained.
Carbon Monoxide is produced when fuel isn’t properly burnt, and when fumes from improperly burnt fuel are allowed to escape into enclosed spaces, so simple defects such as badly adjusted burners, blocked flues, dirty jets, and poor ventilation cause around 40 deaths per year in the UK alone, 200+ people are hospitalised, and it is likely that many thousands of people are suffering flu-like symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea and fatigue without realising the true cause.
Signs of Carbon Monoxide
By far the best way to detect carbon monoxide is to purchase a Smart Compliance detector, which can not only alert you to the presence of CO, but also report the presence of CO to a remote device such as a smartphone.
Owners of gas, oil, LPG, or solid fuel appliances should suspect carbon monoxide poisoning if:
Other people in your home or workplace fall ill with symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue.
You have these symptoms, but they disappear when you are away from home and return when you come back.
You find that your symptoms are noticeable when you are using your heating system.
Your pets become ill as well as your household.
You might also suspect a carbon monoxide leak if you have black, sooty marks on the front covers of gas fires, sooty marks around boilers, stoves or fires, smoke building up in your rooms, or yellow instead of blue flames coming from your gas appliances.
Medical Effects of Carbon Monoxide
If you breath in carbon monoxide, it enters the bloodstream and mixes with the haemoglobin which carries oxygen around your body. This forms carboxyhaemoglobin, and the blood becomes unable to carry oxygen, causing cells and tissue to die.
Carbon Monoxide levels as relatively low as 35 parts per million (PPM) still cause symptoms such as headache and dizziness after several hours exposure. 200 PPM is enough to cause headaches and loss of judgement within just a couple of hours. 800 PPM will make you unconscious within a couple of hours, and and 1600 PPM will kill in less than 2 hours. Recent tragedies involving fumes produced by disposable barbecues within tents, boats, and caravans sadly illustrate the potency of carbon monoxide in a confined space.
Many medical practitioners and researchers are also very concerned that we do not know enough about the effects of long term exposure to carbon monoxide, even at low levels which do not cause readily identifiable symptoms. Householders with heart or lung conditions, the elderly, and pregnant women are thought to be at particular risk.