Mississippi State Department of Health

Fact Sheet: Carbon Monoxide in the Home


Carbon monoxide is an invisible and odorless gas that comes from any heater that burns fuel. Carbon monoxide buildup can cause illness and death by suffocation.

About Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas. A by-product of combustion, it can be produced by ordinary appliances, and is a common hazard in the home. Mild exposure can cause symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, or headaches; while severe poisoning can result in brain or heart damage or even death. The incomplete burning of any material containing carbon, such as gasoline, natural gas, oil, kerosene, propane, charcoal, or wood, produces the poisonous gas. One of the most common sources of exposure in the home is the gas or kerosene-powered heater. Gas-powered water heaters, stoves, and furnaces may also produce carbon monoxide.

CO prevents the body from using oxygen efficiently, causing asphyxiation. CO remains inside the body for hours. The effects depend on how much CO is in the air, how long it is breathed, and the health of an individual

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Low levels of CO poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning or other illnesses and can have a long-term health risk if left uncorrected. CO can also impair judgment. The longer a person breathes CO, the worse the effects can be. Symptoms of mild CO poisoning may include: Moderate levels of CO exposure can cause death if the following symptoms persist for a long measure of time: HIGH LEVELS OF CO CAN BE FATAL WITHIN MINUTES.

Treatment Options

Immediate measures you can take to help those suffering from CO poisoning include:

Precautions You Can Take

Have furnaces and heaters inspected every year. Carbon monoxide is invisible, odorless and tasteless. Inspection helps protect yourself and your family.

Install a carbon monoxide detector in your house, and plan to check its battery every time you check your smoke detector batteries.

Prevent exposure:

Other Preventive Measures

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