Carbon Monoxide (CO) 

Carbon monoxide (CO)

is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that can cause sudden illness and death if present in sufficient concentration in the ambient air.


CO is produced as a result of incomplete burning of fuels like coal, wood, charcoal, natural gas, propane, gasoline, diesel, kerosene, and heating oil. It can be produced by portable generators, small gasoline engines, charcoal grills, gas stoves, portable fuel-powered space heaters, automobile exhaust from attached garages, and smoking tobacco.

Health Effects:

The clinical presentation of acute CO poisoning varies depending on the duration and magnitude of exposure. The most common signs and symptoms include headache, nausea, lethargy (or fatigue), weakness, abdominal discomfort/pain, confusion, and dizziness. Other signs and symptoms may include visual disturbances including blurred vision, numbness and tingling, ataxia, irritability, agitation, chest pain, dyspnea (shortness of breath), palpitations, seizures, and loss of consciousness.

Laboratory Tests:

Blood carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) level is useful in confirming the diagnosis of carbon monoxide poisoning. Environmental monitoring data collected by first responders is also useful in the detection of CO exposure.
Generators CO Poison
  • Install a CO alarm in your home if you have combustion appliances or an attached garage.
  • Be sure all appliances are properly installed and used according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Have fireplace, combustion heating, and ventilation systems, including chimneys, flues, and vents, professionally inspected every year.
  • Do not burn charcoal inside a house, garage, vehicle, tent or fireplace.
  • Always use generators outside, more than 20 feet away from home, doors, and windows.
  • Do not use un-vented combustion heaters in enclosed spaces, especially sleeping areas.
  • Never leave an automobile running in a closed garage or in a garage attached to the house - even with the garage door open.
  • While driving, keep the rear window or tailgate of a vehicle closed, as CO from the exhaust can be pulled inside.
  • If you suspect you are experiencing any symptoms of CO poisoning, open doors and windows, turn off gas appliances and go outside.
  • In cases of severe CO poisoning, call 911 emergency services or call the Florida Poison Information Center at 1-800-222-1222.