Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas that comes from burning fuels such as natural gas, oil, coal, wood, gasoline, and propane and from cigarette smoke. It is an invisible, odourless and tasteless gas that can cause serious health problems or even death. Sources of CO in the home include:
CO can accumulate in enclosed spaces such as a home, cottage, garage, or tent. Since Canadians spend 90% of their time indoors, and homes are heated for many months of the year, it is important to protect yourself and your family from CO.
Since CO is colourless, odourless, and tasteless, you can be exposed to CO before you even notice it is present. When CO is inhaled, it limits your body’s ability to carry oxygen in your blood. Symptoms of CO exposure can range from mild to severe depending on the amount of CO you are exposed to and how long you have been exposed. These symptoms can happen quickly and may include:
People with pre-existing health conditions, such as heart or lung disease, may also be more sensitive to the effects of low-level CO exposure. Infants, young children, and the elderly are also considered to be more susceptible to the health effects caused by CO exposure.
However, anyone can be at risk of CO poisoning, so it is important that you take action to protect everyone!
More than 300 CO related deaths occur each year in Canada, all of which are preventable. There are actions you can take to protect yourself and your family from CO exposure.