CO Poisoning and the Environment

carbon monoxide poisoning

Exposure and Risk

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a toxic gas that you cannot see or smell. It is found in exhaust from cars and trucks, lawn and construction equipment, airplanes, boats, and trains.

CO usually comes from sources in or near your home that are not properly maintained or vented. These sources include heating systems, water heaters, portable generators, and gas cooking ranges and appliances. CO from these sources can build up in a place that does not have a good flow of fresh air.

All people and animals are at risk for CO poisoning. Unborn babies, Infants, and people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or respiratory problems are generally more sensitive to its effects.


Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is preventable. There are several things you can do to ensure you and your family are safe from CO poisoning.

  • DO have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or, coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • DO install a battery-powered CO detector (or electric-powered device with battery backup) in your home, near all sleeping areas. As with smoke detectors, replace the battery when changing the time on clocks each spring and fall. If the alarm sounds, leave your home immediately and call 9-1-1.
  • DO seek prompt medical attention if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseous.
  • DO NOT use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal burning device inside the home, basement, or garage; outside near a window; or under a tent.
  • DO NOT run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if the door is left open.
  • DO NOT burn anything in a stove or fireplace that is not vented or may be clogged.
  • DO NOT use a gas cooking range or oven to heat your home.