They call it the “silent killer”. Carbon monoxide cannot be smelled, tasted or seen. But it is certainly lethal. Health Canada explains that “CO forms whenever you burn fuel like propane, natural gas, gasoline, oil, coal and wood. It is also contained in second-hand smoke.” So you would think that preventing carbon monoxide poisoning would be easy, right? Simply avoid using any of the above mentioned products.
Not so easy. Especially with the summertime quickly approaching and “barbeque season” about to take off, avoiding such useful BBQ requirements as propane, coal or wood isn’t going to be very likely. Of course, when used correctly and with great caution, these products should be no major cause for concern. Who doesn’t love a good barbeque in the summer? Diligent attention to maintenance, however, can mean the difference between optimum health and death!
Health Canada admits that “while CO can be present in your home or cottage at any time of the year, the risk is greater in cold winter months. That’s because homes in Canada are usually heated by furnaces, water heaters/boilers, wood stoves, and other appliances that run on fuels. If these devices are improperly installed or malfunction, they can release CO into your home.” So what ways can we prevent carbon monoxide from entering our homes during the summer?
Here are four ways:
1. Regularly check your appliances. You may not be using your furnaces and fireplaces all that much during the warmer months of the year. But that doesn’t mean that they should be ignored. Health Canada insists that you “make sure appliances like furnaces, fireplaces, gas stoves, and water heaters are well maintained and inspected by a professional at least once a year.” Don’t forget to check all of your propane and natural gas powered appliances as well.
2. Turn the car off! It sounds like a tip that belongs in the “no-brainer” category. But it should be stressed that when you park your car in your garage, there’s no reason to keep the engine running for any length of time. As Everwell.com explains, a “car exhaust has high levels of carbon monoxide, so never leave your car running in the garage – not even with the door open. It only takes a few minutes for the fumes to move from the garage into the house.”
3. Open the windows. It’s generally a good idea to allow the air in your home to circulate with the air outside. And although you can never be too sure about what pollutants exist in the air outside, you can be sure to reduce the levels of the carbon monoxide that may be in your home by allowing some fresh air in. This will be especially important if you are experiencing any of the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning: headaches, nausea and dizziness.
4. Leave it outside! Barbeques and portable fuel-burning camping equipment are meant for outdoor use. They are also meant for outdoor storage. Health Canada warns to never bring such things inside your home, garage, vehicle, camper or tent. As well, “don’t use kerosene or oil space heaters or lamps in enclosed areas unless they’re specifically designed for indoor use,” they report. And as if it wasn’t already obvious, strictly prohibit cigarette smoking indoors.
At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we take indoor air quality very seriously. With “silent killers” like carbon monoxide posing serious threats to your health, it’s important for thorough inspections to be completed in order to ensure the top quality of the air you breathe in your home. For more information on our Air Quality Services, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re put off by the idea that odourless, colourless gases can enter our homes and potentially kills us, you’re not alone. Naturally, it’s worrisome to think that we can be negatively affecting our health simply by breathing the air that is in our homes. Our recent blogs have covered the characteristics – or rather, the health risks – of two gases that belong in the “silent killer” category: carbon monoxide and radon.
The former, which is actually referred to as “the silent killer” is a gas that is often emitted from fuel burning appliances like furnaces, ranges and water heaters. According to Keith Pandolfi of ThisOldHouse.com, 170 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning each year. And while that may not seem like a large number, it’s one that can be significantly lowered by taking a few steps to avoid the gas altogether.
Here are four ways to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning:
1. Proper ventilation. This simple technique is very often brought up as a chief way to improve indoor air quality. Without a regular trading of indoor air for outdoor air, dangerous pollutants can remain trapped in the home. Worse, they can become trapped in our lungs. To prevent this, Pandolfi reminds us to vent the exhausts of our furnaces, ranges and water heaters. And he makes clear how we can all do this properly.
“That means having the pipes angle up, not down, as these folks have done,” he directs us, “hot air rises, you know.” He goes on to advise us to check that the vents are free of cracks and gaps. That way, you can avoid the possibility of leaks. As you can imagine, a cracked vent will emit carbon monoxide into the home. And while you won’t be able to smell or see carbon monoxide, Lowes.com reveals a way that we can detect it.
2. Look for orange flames. For those of us who own gas stoves, an orange flame coming from the burner can be a sign that carbon monoxide is present. Gas stoves, as you may know, generally emit blue flames. The site goes on to warn that you should never use an oven or cooking range to heat your home. Of course, this would just be silly – to put it mildly. But you’d be surprised at how many people have tried it.
3. Install a carbon monoxide detector. Lowes.com recommends that you install detectors near the bedrooms in your home. For those who own two-story homes, you should have a detector on each floor. Furthermore, be sure to change the batteries in the CO detector at least twice a year. And after five years, it’s a pretty good idea to replace the detectors for brand new ones. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
4. Hire professionals to do an inspection. Speaking of being safe rather than sorry, there is no better way to eliminate the health risks associated with carbon monoxide than to have your property thoroughly inspected by experts. At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we take indoor air quality very seriously. And if you’ve been paying attention to our blogs on air quality, you’ll know exactly why you should as well.
We make it our mission to investigate the origin of your concern so that we can assist you with whatever is necessary to eliminate it. Our Air Quality Services seek to make your living space one that is free of air pollutants that can significantly damage your health. Carbon monoxide and radon are not easy to detect. But they will not escape us! For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email email@example.com.
The phrase “out of sight, out of mind” certainly doesn’t apply when it comes to our breathing air. That’s because chances are you’re unable to see or smell the pollutants that could be causing damage to your respiratory system. This is especially true for carbon monoxide, which is known as “the silent killer”. Because it is odourless and colourless, it is near impossible to detect. Therefore, it has sadly caused many deaths without warning.
“Carbon monoxide (CO) is the leading cause of fatal poisonings in North America,” explains the Canada Safety Council, “Exposure to high concentrations can cause death in just a few minutes.” They go on to note that confusion – which is a symptom of carbon monoxide exposure – can actually interfere with an individual’s ability to realize that his or her life may be in danger. This is why immediate diagnosis is so important.
So what are the other major symptoms associated with carbon monoxide? Canada Safety Council reports that in low concentrations, people can experience a shortage of breath after just moderate activity as well as slight headaches, nausea and dizziness. In higher concentrations, people can suffer from severe headaches, mental confusion, dizziness, impaired vision and hearing and even fainting spells after exertion. Extreme concentrations have been known to cause unconsciousness, comas and death.
Who is most susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning? If you work in poorly ventilated areas where machines are regularly in use, you could be putting yourself at risk. “Any indoor workplace where engines are running presents a potential hazard. Workers must realize that fuel-powered machines can expose them to this deadly gas,” says Canada Safety Council, “Workers in confined spaces, such as mines, can be exposed to CO.”
How exactly does carbon monoxide affect us? You would think that if a gas is odourless and colourless, that it couldn’t possibly do a whole lot to harm us. Again, the “out of sight” theory doesn’t apply here. “CO blocks the absorption of oxygen into the bloodstream from the lungs, and poisons the red blood cells so they cannot carry oxygen. If body tissues do not receive a constant supply of oxygen, they stop functioning,” explains Canada Safety Council.
They go on to note that oxygen deprivation can severely damage the brain. In addition, carbon monoxide is also known to present serious complications in the reproductive process. The council points out that pregnant women stand a greater chance of miscarriage, stillbirth and low birth weight if exposed to carbon monoxide. Men aren’t immune either. “In men, genetic damage to reproductive cells, loss of potency, and abnormal sperm have been reported,” the organization reveals.
What can be done to protect ourselves from carbon monoxide? Thankfully, all hope is not lost. While carbon monoxide is odourless and colourless, it cannot sneak its way passed CO detectors. They should be present in all work areas where hazards may be present, says Canada Safety Council. Also, fuel-operated machinery should not be used indoors, if at all possible. As well, adequate respiratory equipment should be used when working in confined spaces.
What should be done if we feel sick? “Seek medical attention immediately if anyone shows symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, such as a severe headache, dizziness and nausea,” insists the council, “Take the exposed person into the fresh air as quickly as possible. Give artificial respiration if breathing has stopped, and administer oxygen if available.” Needless to say, your home and work space should be tested for the presence of carbon monoxide.
At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we provide Air Quality Services that seek to eliminate any air quality problems that could lead to severe issues with your health. We maximize our inspection processes to target any and all potential areas of concern – and carbon monoxide is a major concern. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.