Introduction to Carbon Monoxide (CO)
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas. CO is found in combustion fumes, such as those produced by vehicles, small gasoline engines, stoves, lanterns, charcoal and wood fires, and gas ranges and heating systems. It is a byproduct when there is insufficient oxygen supply to enable complete oxidation to Carbon Dioxide (CO2).
Carbon Monoxide poisoning occurs after enough inhalation of the gas. Known as the “silent killer,” it is undetectable to the human senses, so people may not know that they are being exposed. CO causes adverse effects in humans by combining with hemoglobin to form carboxyhemoglobin in the blood. This prevents hemoglobin from releasing oxygen in tissues, leading to oxygen deprivation within a human body. However, the effects of Carbon Monoxide exposure can vary greatly from person to person depending on age, overall health, and the concentration and length of exposure.
As Carbon Monoxide is considered a toxic gas, it is particularly dangerous in enclosed areas and requires constant monitoring and detection.
When present in low concentrations through inhalation, Carbon Monoxide poisoning may produce these symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Muscle weakness
- Flu-like symptoms
When present in high concentrations through inhalation, Carbon Monoxide poisoning may produce these symptoms:
When researching CO gas detection solutions, facility managers should be aware of the following CO exposure limits:
|50 ppm TWA||OSHA PEL (General Industry)|
|50 ppm TWA||OSHA PEL (Construction Industry)|
|50 ppm TWA||OSHA PEL (Maritime)|
|25 ppm TWA||ACGIH TLV|
|35 ppm TWA; 200 ppm Ceiling||NIOSH REL|
|1,200 ppm||NIOSH IDLH|