PoisoningCarbon monoxide is an odorless gas that causes thousands of deaths
each year in North America. Breathing in carbon monoxide is very
dangerous. It is the leading cause of poisoning death in the United
This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or
management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure,
you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the
National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
Carbon monoxide is a chemical produced from the incomplete burning
of natural gas or other products containing carbon.
The following items may produce carbon monoxide:
• Anything that burns coal, gasoline, kerosene, oil, propane, or
• Automobile engines
• Charcoal grills (charcoal should never be burned indoors)
• Indoor and portable heating systems
• Portable propane heaters
• Stoves (indoor and camp stoves)
• Water heater that use natural gas
Note: This list may not be all inclusive.
When you breathe in carbon monoxide, the poison replaces the oxygen
in your bloodstream. Your heart, brain, and body will become starved
Symptoms vary from person to person.
Those at high risk include
young children, the elderly, persons with lung or heart disease,
people at high altitudes, and smokers. Carbon monoxide can harm a
fetus (unborn baby still in the womb).
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include:
• Breathing problems, including no breathing, shortness of breath,
or rapid breathing
• Chest pain (may occur suddenly in people with angina)
• Impaired judgment
• Low blood pressure
• Muscle weakness
• Rapid or abnormal heart beat
• Nausea and vomiting
If the person breathed in the poison, immediately move him or her to
fresh air. Seek immediate medical help.
Install a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home. Place
an additional detector near any major gas burning
appliances (such as a furnace or water heater).
Many carbon monoxide poisonings occur in the winter months when
furnaces, gas fireplaces, and portable heaters are being used and
windows are closed. Make sure you have any heaters and gas-burning
appliances regularly inspected to make sure they are safe to use.