In the state of Minnesota, it is required that homes have carbon monoxide detectors within 10 feet of bedrooms. Detectors are crucial in detecting carbon monoxide (CO), which is an odorless, colorless gas often formed in the process of incomplete combustion of organic substances, including fuels. It is dangerous because it interferes with normal oxygen uptake for humans and other living organisms needing oxygen to live.
CO is a gas that can build up to dangerous concentrations indoors when fuel- burning devices are not properly vented, operated, or maintained. Because it has no odor, color or taste, CO cannot be detected by our senses. It is estimated that unintentional CO exposure accounts for an estimated 500 deaths in the United States each year. Poisoning contributes annually to more than 2,000 deaths in the United States.1 In addition, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 8,000 to 15,000 people each year are examined or treated in hospitals for non-fire related CO poisoning. Breathed over long periods of time, low concentrations of CO may also contribute to other illness. Fortunately, simple measures can be taken to prevent CO problems. One such action is the installation of a CO alarm to detect potentially deadly conditions.
What are the sources of CO?
In general, CO is produced when any material burns. More is produced when there isn’t enough oxygen for efficient burning. Common sources of CO in homes include fuel-burning devices such as: furnaces, gas or kerosene space heaters, boilers, gas cooking stoves, water heaters, clothes dryers, fireplaces, charcoal grills, wood stoves, lawn mowers, power generators, camp stoves, motor vehicles and some power tools with internal combustion engines. Smoking is another common source of CO that can negatively impact indoor air quality.
Please protect yourself and install carbon monoxide detectors in your home! For more info, please visit the state of Minnesota Department of Health website.