May 27,

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide

Most people are aware that outdoor air pollution can damage our health, but fewer realize that indoor air pollution can be as, or even more harmful.

Because Canadians typically spend close to 90 percent of their time indoors, there is considerable public health concern about the health effects of poor indoor air quality.

What Is It?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless and odourless gas. Because you can’t see, taste or smell it, it can affect you or your family before you even know it’s here. 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.

Possible sources of carbon monoxide in the home are:

  • gas and oil furnaces and appliances that are not properly maintained or vented to the outside of the building;
  • car engines in attached garages; and
  • tobacco smoke.

What You Can Do

  • Ensure all gas and oil-burning cooking and heating appliances are properly maintained
  • and inspected annually by a qualified technician.
  • If you have a garage attached to your house, never use a remote starter when your car is inside it. Never start your car when the door between your garage and your home is open.
  • Purchase a carbon monoxide detector. CO detectors are designed to sound an alarm before a healthy adult would feel any symptoms. Infants, the elderly and those with respiratory and heart conditions are at particular risk and may react to even low levels of CO poisoning.

Last modified on Oct 09, 2015

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