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Cracks Kill: Hazards of Carbon Monoxide

Cracked-Heat-Exchanger_New

As we enter the Fall and Winter months, many of us will begin to use our heater which hasn’t been turned on since this time last year. Like most Americans, we fail to get our heaters checked and assume they will work perfectly, just as they did last year. Unfortunately for us, failure to do so could result in serious injury or death due to Carbon monoxide.

First, what is Carbon Monoxide? Carbon monoxide is a toxic, colorless, odorless, tasteless and initially non-irritating gas that is very difficult to detect, and causes thousands of deaths each year in the United States. Breathing in carbon monoxide is very dangerous. It is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in the United States. Carbon monoxide is the product of incomplete combustion of organic matter due to the lack of Oxygen in the combustion process. Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs after an individual inhales a certain amount of carbon monoxide.

Unfortunately, due to the gas being very difficult to detect, it often goes unnoticed. Victims of carbon monoxide poisoning often don’t know they are suffering from it due to the fact that they are suffering from flu-like symptoms. These symptoms go as follows: headaches and dizziness, nausea, body aches, fatigue, tightness across the chest and drowsiness. Having prolonged exposures to carbon monoxide are very dangerous and with that comes even worse symptoms. These symptoms are vomiting, confusion, collapse, loss of consciousness, muscle weakness, and death.

            There are many things inside and out that can produce carbon monoxide.  A few things for example: cigarette smoke, house fires, cracks in your heat exchanger and gas lines, wood-burning stoves, vehicle exhaust, electrical generators, propane-fueled equipment, like portable stoves and gas powered tools. Though, these portable devices are typically not bad for you when used outside in an open area. These things should not harm you unless you have been inhaling the carbon monoxide for an extended period of time.

            Carbon monoxide is measured in ppm or Parts Per Million. There are numerous levels of carbon monoxide that are dangerous to your health. Carbon monoxide poisoning begins at about 100 PPM. Below is a table that shows the different levels of carbon monoxide.

Concentration

Symptoms

35 ppm (0.0035%)

Headache and dizziness within six to eight hours of constant exposure

100 ppm (0.01%)

Slight headache in two to three hours

200 ppm (0.02%)

Slight headache within two to three hours; loss of judgment

400 ppm (0.04%)

Frontal headache within one to two hours

800 ppm (0.08%)

Dizziness, nausea, and convulsions within 45 min; insensible within 2 hours

1,600 ppm (0.16%)

Headache, tachycardia, dizziness, and nausea within 20 min; death in less than 2 hours

3,200 ppm (0.32%)

Headache, dizziness and nausea in five to ten minutes. Death within 30 minutes.

6,400 ppm (0.64%)

Headache and dizziness in one to two minutes. Convulsions, respiratory arrest, and death in less than 20 minutes.

12,800 ppm (1.28%)

Unconsciousness after 2–3 breaths. Death in less than three minutes.

(This chart is provided by Wikipedia.org) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_monoxide_poisoning

 

Stats: Provided by the CDC http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6030a2.htm

 

TABLE 1. Incidence and treatment of reported exposures to unintentional, non–fire-related carbon monoxide — National Poison Data System, United States, 2000–2009

Variable*

Total (N = 68,316)

Managed on-site* (N = 30,798)

Transported to health-care facility* (N = 36,691)

No.

(%)

Rate per 1 million

No.

(%)

Rate per 1 million

No.

(%)

Rate per 1 million

Age (yrs)

≤17

18,896

(27.7)

25.7

7,367

(23.9)

10.0

11,344

(30.9)

15.4

18–44

23,100

(20.4)

19.4

9,171

(29.8)

8.1

13,673

(37.3)

12.0

45–64

7,806

(11.4)

10.9

2,924

(9.5)

4.1

4,796

(13.1)

6.7

≥65

2,287

(3.4)

6.2

825

(2.7)

2.2

1,431

(3.9)

3.9

Sex

Female

34,356

(50.3)

23.0

15,631

(50.8)

10.5

18,282

(59.4)

12.2

Male

30,257

(44.3)

20.9

12,934

(42.0)

8.9

16,982

(46.3)

11.7

Region§

Midwest

20,527

(30.1)

 

9,465

(30.7)

 

10,840

(29.5)

 

Northeast

20,030

(29.3)

 

10,919

(35.5)

 

8,966

(24.4)

 

West

13,510

(19.8)

 

4,224

(13.7)

 

6,984

(19.0)

 

South

11,366

(16.6)

 

4,989

(16.2)

 

8,243

(22.5)

 

Exposure site§

Residence

53,039

(77.6)

 

24,734

(80.3)

 

27,569

(75.1)

 

Workplace

8,170

(12.0)

 

2,789

(9.1)

 

5,273

(14.4)

 

Public area

2,593

(3.8)

 

1,292

(4.2)

 

1,268

(3.5)

 

School

2,016

(3.0)

 

28

(0.1)

 

119

(0.3)

 

Other

2,498

(4.7)

 

1,955

(6.3)

 

2,340

(6.4)

 

Outcome

Death

235

(0.3)

 

95

(0.3)

 

106

(0.3)

 

Major effect

1,027

(1.5)

 

26

(0.1)

 

995

(2.7)

 

Moderate effect**

10,291

(15.1)

 

1,542

(5.0)

 

8,630

(23.5)

 

Minor effect††

34,207

(50.1)

 

12,430

(40.4)

 

21,345

(58.2)

 

No effect

22,520

(33.0)

 

16,697

(54.2)

 

5,595

(15.3)

 

 

            There are various different ways you can go about avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning. As we discussed earlier, it is a very difficult gas to detect, but nevertheless, it is still detectable and preventable. One simple way is by installing Carbon Monoxide Detectors in your home. Always remember to have routine maintenance on your furnace, water heaters, gas lines, or anything else that may be combustible. That includes all your appliances such as your stove.

 

Review:

  • Carbon Monoxide has flu-like symptoms and often goes undetected during the fall and winter seasons.
  • Poisoning starts at around 100 ppm (parts per million)
  • It is absolutely important to have all your appliances and hvac equipment serviced and maintained every year.
  • Remember to install Carbon Monoxide Detectors in your home

Trusted heating, ventilation & AC service!

Champion Forest Air Conditioning & Heating, Inc

Champion Forest Air Conditioning & Heating, Inc