Scary Truth About Carbon Monoxide
Cracked Heat Exchangers are the #1 Cause of Carbon Monoxide Leaks From A Furnace
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless and odorless, poisonous gas, which is formed by incomplete combustion. CO is quickly absorbed by the blood if present in the lungs, and will displace the oxygen. This causes many harmful effects, including the possibility of death. In fact, hundreds of people die each year as a result of CO poisoning.
The effect of CO is cumulative. Meaning that even exposure to small amounts over a period of time can be harmful. Regular maintenance on your HVAC system can sometimes save a life. There are many standards defining allowable exposure levels to CO. A few of these, as well as the effects and symptoms at various points, are documented in the table below.
Concentration in Air
Maximum allowable concentration in a living space per Ashrae Standard 62-1989
Maximum limit for 8 hours of continuous exposure per California OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration)
Maximum limit for 8 hours of continuous exposure per US OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration)
Slight headache within 2-3 hours, dizziness, nausea also possible
Maximum concentration in flue gas per the US EPA and AGA (American Gas Association). Also frontal headache within 2 hours, life threatening beyond 3 hours.
Headache, dizziness and nausea within 45 minutes. Unconsciousness within 2 hours and Death within 2-3 hours.
Headache, dizziness and nausea within 20 minutes, Death within 1-2 hours.
Headache, dizziness and nausea within 5-10 minutes, Death within 30 minutes.
Headache, dizziness and nausea within 1-2 minutes, Death within 10-15 minutes.
Death within 1-3 minutes.
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