Carbon Monoxide (CO)

What Is Carbon Monoxide(CO)?

CO is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that is lighter than air. CO enters the body during the normal breathing process. Like oxygen, it collects in the lungs and combines with the red blood cells. When inhaled, CO is absorbed into the bloodstream where it interferes with the blood's ability to transport oxygen. CO is denser than oxygen and thus prevents the flow of oxygen to the heart, brain and other vital organs. In short, it can suffocate the body.


Where Is CO Found?

Outdoors, carbon monoxide (CO) is all around us, diluted by the air. Indoors it becomes concentrated, and even in small quantities can harm or kill us. Finding the source of this poison is critical so you can prevent exposure to it.

CO is usually emitted from familiar, unsuspected sources. CO comes from incomplete combustion; it can be produced from any flame-fueled device, including gas ranges, ovens, clothes dryers, gas or oil furnaces, fireplaces, charcoal grills, space heaters fueled by natural gas, propane or oils, vehicles, trucks and hot water heaters.

The most common source of CO in a home is the open flames from ovens and ranges. These appliances should never be used for heating homes. Furnaces and water heaters can be sources of CO if they are not vented properly. If they are vented properly, CO and other hot products of combustion escape to the outside through the vent.


CO Detectors are mandatory in California.

State law mandates that CO Detectors be installed in all dwelling units intended for human occupancy. CO Detectors should be installed on every floor and outside each bedroom or sleeping area.

CO Detectors do not take the place of smoke detectors (or fire extinguishers); you must have all three to fully protect occupants.