Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, toxic gas which interferes with the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood. CO is non-irritating and can overcome persons without warning. Many people die from CO poisoning, usually while using gasoline powered tools and generators in buildings or semi-enclosed spaces without adequate ventilation.
Effects of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- Severe carbon monoxide poisoning causes neurological damage, illness, coma and death.
Symptoms of CO exposure
- Headaches, dizziness and drowsiness.
- Nausea, vomiting, tightness across the chest.
Some Sources of Exposure
- Portable generators/generators in buildings.
- Concrete cutting saws, compressors.
- Power trowels, floor buffers, space heaters.
- Welding, gasoline powered pumps.
Preventing CO Exposure
- Never use a generator indoors or in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces such as garages, crawl spaces, and basements. Opening windows and doors in an enclosed space may prevent CO buildup.
- Make sure the generator has 3-4 feet of clear space on all sides and above it to ensure adequate ventilation.
- Do not use a generator outdoors if placed near doors, windows or vents which could allow CO to enter and build up in occupied spaces.
- When using space heaters and stoves ensure that they are in good working order to reduce CO buildup, and never use in enclosed spaces or indoors.
- Consider using tools powered by electricity or compressed air, if available.
- If you experience symptoms of CO poisoning get to fresh air right away and seek immediate medical attention.
For more complete information:
U.S. Department of Labor
www.osha.gov (800) 321-OSHA
- For more information - Campus Health Safety Specialists, or call 848-445-2550