Image source does not exist News Release: 2010-11-09 Carbon Monoxide: A Winter’s Health Threat (<a href="">Watch Video</a>)

Release #:10-59

ARB PIO: (916) 322-2990

Dimitri Stanich

Carbon Monoxide: A Winter’s Health Threat (Watch Video)

Appliances using natural gas should be inspected and carbon monoxide detectors installed
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SACRAMENTO - The Air Resources Board is urging Californians to guard against carbon-monoxide poisoning by having detectors installed and gas appliances inspected before the cold weather arrives.

On average each year about 35 Californians and 450 people nationally die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, and many more experience flu-like symptoms from exposure to harmful but non-lethal levels of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that blocks the use of oxygen in the body. Young children and individuals with heart disease are those most likely to be affected by carbon monoxide poisoning. Warning signs of exposure to carbon monoxide 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 is a silent killer, and tragically takes lives in California every year without warning,” said ARB Chairman Mary Nichols.  “We can prevent those unnecessary deaths.  It’s a simple step to protect your family by installing detectors and having your local utility check your house for leaks."

More than half of all carbon monoxide poisoning deaths are from malfunctioning or improperly vented combustion appliances in homes. ARB recommends:
In addition, do not to operate cars or other internal combustion engines in enclosed spaces or attached garages.

A third of carbon monoxide poisoning deaths are 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 little or no breeze which causes stagnant weather conditions. These levels have been measured in covered garages and at busy intersections. Rising levels of outdoor carbon monoxide may generate health complaints in sensitive people.

For more information on indoor combustion pollutants, see our indoor air quality guideline entitled "Combustion Pollutants in Your Home" at:

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.