Image source does not exist News Release: 2014-01-08 Carbon monoxide can be deadly in enclosed rooms

Release #:14-02

ARB PIO: (916) 322-2990

Franceska Ramos
(916) 322-2990

Carbon monoxide can be deadly in enclosed rooms

Check and replace batteries annually in carbon monoxide alarms and detectors

SACRAMENTO - The California Air Resources Board (ARB) urges residents to guard against carbon monoxide poisoning by having a carbon monoxide detection device installed and replacing batteries annually for those devices that are operated by batteries. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer and having a working carbon monoxide detector is a small investment that can help save lives.

Californians are also urged to have gas appliances inspected to ensure they are working properly. More than half of all carbon monoxide poisoning deaths are from malfunctioning or improperly vented gas appliances in homes. The others come from a variety of combustion sources, including charcoal grills, automobile exhausts, space heaters, generators and fireplaces.

The State of California requires by law that every California home with an attached garage or fossil fuel source appliance have an operational carbon-monoxide detector or alarm installed. Carbon monoxide poisoning can strike wherever combustion occurs in enclosed areas, including homes, recreational vehicles, cabins, tents and houseboats. Vigilance is the key to avoiding tragedy.

“Carbon monoxide deaths are preventable,” said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. “Having the required alarms properly working and your gas-using appliances inspected are simple steps that will protect you and your family.”

On average, about 30 Californians die per year from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning and more than 600 others go to emergency rooms due to non-lethal exposures. Warning signs of exposure are headache, drowsiness, nausea and inability to concentrate; these symptoms will go away when the affected person is removed from the area and given fresh air.

Carbon monoxide inhibits the blood’s ability to carry oxygen to body tissues including vital organs such as the heart and brain. It is especially dangerous for young children and individuals with heart disease, so it is crucial that people take preventative measures such as having a properly working carbon monoxide detector.

ARB recommends the following:
In addition, do not operate cars or other internal combustion engines in enclosed spaces or attached garages. Carbon monoxide poisoning deaths are often the result of accidental exposure from vehicles running in closed garages.

ARB data show that outdoor carbon-monoxide levels rise throughout California between the months of November and March because of the lack of breezes which could eliminate stagnant weather conditions. These levels have been measured in covered garages and at busy intersections. Rising levels of carbon monoxide may generate health complaints in people sensitive to exposure.

ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.