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Complementary Medicine

Can a Person Get Carbon Monoxide Poisoning From a Improper Exhaust System?

10/03/2002

Question:

Can a person get carbon monoxide poisoning this from improper exhaust system at a work place in a kitchen and what can a person do about it?

Answer:

The following is information taken (and edited) from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website: Carbon Monoxide (CO): Colorless gas or liquid; practically odorless. Sources of Carbon Monoxide: Unvented kerosene and gas space heaters; leaking chimneys and furnaces; back-drafting from furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces; gas stoves. Automobile exhaust from attached garages. Environmental tobacco smoke. Health Effects Associated with Carbon Monoxide At low concentrations, fatigue in healthy people and chest pain in people with heart disease. At higher concentrations, impaired vision and coordination; headaches; dizziness; confusion; nausea. Can cause flu-like symptoms that clear up after leaving home. Fatal at very high concentrations. Steps to Reduce Exposure to Carbon Monoxide: Keep gas appliances properly adjusted. Consider purchasing a vented space heater when replacing an unvented one. Use proper fuel in kerosene space heaters. Install and use an exhaust fan vented to outdoors over gas stoves. Open flues when fireplaces are in use. Choose properly sized wood stoves that are certified to meet EPA emission standards. Make certain that doors on all wood stoves fit tightly. Have a trained professional inspect, clean, and tune-up central heating system (furnaces, flues, and chimneys) annually. Repair any leaks promptly. Do not idle the car inside garage. Links National Center for Environmental Health Air and Respiratory Health Branch Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Checklist for Prevention of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Office of Information and Public Affairs, Washington, D.C. 20207 Carbon Monoxide Questions and Answers (CPSC document #466) Subject-Specific Publications Protect Your Family and Yourself from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, October 1996 (402-F-96-005) 

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Response by:

Tanya I Edwards, MD, MEd Tanya I Edwards, MD, MEd
Formerly, Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University