Carbon Monoxide in your Home
At our monitoring stations the District measures
levels of carbon monoxide in outdoor air; levels are well below state
and federal air quality standards. The District does not regulate indoor
air quality, or indoor air quality devices. The following is provided
for informational purposes only.
Why should I be concerned about carbon monoxide in my home?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a tasteless, odorless gas that can be
deadly. It is produced by burning any fuel. Your home may contain one or
more appliances that produce CO. These include: oil or gas furnaces, gas
water heaters, gas or propane barbeques, gas space heaters, gas ranges
and ovens, fireplaces, and wood-burning stoves. Vehicles also produce
How do I know if there is carbon monoxide in my home?
Carbon monoxide can be present if fuel-burning appliances are not
well ventilated or are not functioning properly. In California, more
than half of CO-related deaths result from appliances that are not
working or ventilated properly.Because it
is odorless and tasteless, CO can be present along with other gases and
you may not know it is there. For example, CO can be present when but
you may only smell the smoke.
The presence of CO may cause a variety of symptoms because CO impairs
your blood’s ability to carry oxygen to your brain and heart. Oxygen
deprivation causes sleepiness, fatigue, and other problems. At low to
moderate levels of exposure, CO can cause shortness of breath,
headaches, dizziness, or nausea. Long-term or high dose exposure can be
deadly. Seniors, pregnant women, and people with cardiac or respiratory
conditions are most vulnerable to CO poisoning.
How do I know if my symptoms are from CO poisoning and not
the flu or food-poisoning?
If you experience the symptoms
described above, turn off appliances, open all the doors and windows and
leave the house immediately to get fresh air. If your symptoms go away,
carbon monoxide may have been the cause.
How do I prevent CO poisoning?
CO poisoning can
be prevented by adhering to the following guidelines.
- Detection: It is now California law
that every home with an attached garage or gas-using appliances
install a carbon monoxide detector.
- Inspection: Every fall, have your fuel-burning or
gas appliances inspected by a qualified professional.
- Ventilation: Do not idle your car in the garage.
Do not use your gas stove or oven to heat your home. Choose appliances that vent fumes outdoors. If you have
an appliance that does not vent to the outdoors, carefully follow
the instructions that come with the appliance, use the appropriate
fuel at all times, and crack or open doors or windows to create some
- Maintenance: Make sure that flues, chimneys,
stovepipes, and vents are in good condition and are not blocked.
Keep all fuel-burning or gas appliances in working order.
Should I buy a CO detector?
The state of
California requires that every home with an attached garage or gas-using
appliance install a CO detector. Only purchase detectors certified by Underwriters
Laboratories (UL). These sound an alarm when dangerous CO levels are
detected, which is important if you and others in your household are
asleep. If there are small children, seniors, or people with
respiratory, circulatory, or cardiac problems in your home, you may want
to purchase a detector that has warning signs or digital readouts for CO
even at low levels. Carefully follow the instructions to ensure correct
use, placement and maintenance of your CO detector. For more information
on the state law, contact the California Housing and Community
Development Office at (916) 445-9471.
Where can I go to learn more?
Environmental Protection Agency’s
website on carbon monoxide and indoor
Questions and Answers about CO from the Consumer Product Safety
Disease Control and Prevention
fact sheet on carbon monoxide
California Air Resources Board
website on indoor air pollution
Calirornia Air Resources Board
website on combustion pollutants in your home
The District's webpage on indoor air