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Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless and odorless gas because you can't see, taste or smell it, it can affect you or your family before you even know it's there. Even at low levels of exposure, carbon monoxide can cause serious health problems. CO is harmful because it will rapidly accumulate in the blood, depleting the ability of blood to carry oxygen.
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The most important step you can take to eliminate the possibility of CO poisoning is to ensure that CO never has an opportunity to enter your home. This is your line of defense. Review this list to minimize the risk of CO in your home.
Carbon monoxide is a common byproduct of the combustion (burning) of fossil fuels. Most fuel-burning equipment (natural gas, propane, and oil), if properly installed and maintained, produces little CO. The byproducts of combustion are usually safely vented to the outside. However, if anything disrupts the venting process (such as a bird's nest in the chimney) or results In a shortage of oxygen to the burner, CO production can quickly rise to dangerous levels.
The burning of wood, kerosene, coal, and charcoal and gasoline engines produce CO. CO production is at a maximum during the startup of a cold engine. Starting, then idling, your car or gas mower in the garage can be dangerous. The fumes that contain CO can enter a home through connecting walls or doorway and can quickly rise to dangerous levels.