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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, toxic gas which interferes with the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood. CO is non-irritating and can overcome persons without warning. Many people die from CO poisoning, usually while using gasoline powered tools and generators in buildings or semi-enclosed spaces without adequate ventilation.

Effects of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
  • Severe carbon monoxide poisoning causes neurological damage, illness, coma and death.
Symptoms of CO exposure
  • Headaches, dizziness and drowsiness.
  • Nausea, vomiting, tightness across the chest.
Some Sources of Exposure
  • Portable generators/generators in buildings.
  • Concrete cutting saws, compressors.
  • Power trowels, floor buffers, space heaters.
  • Welding, gasoline powered pumps.
Preventing CO Exposure
  • Never use a generator indoors or in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces such as garages, crawl spaces, and basements. Opening windows and doors in an enclosed space may prevent CO buildup.
  • Make sure the generator has 3-4 feet of clear space on all sides and above it to ensure adequate ventilation.
  • Do not use a generator outdoors if placed near doors, windows or vents which could allow CO to enter and build up in occupied spaces.
  • When using space heaters and stoves ensure that they are in good working order to reduce CO buildup, and never use in enclosed spaces or indoors.
  • Consider using tools powered by electricity or compressed air, if available.
  • If you experience symptoms of CO poisoning get to fresh air right away and seek immediate medical attention.


For more complete information:
OSHA Occupational
Safety and Health
Administration
U.S. Department of Labor
www.osha.gov (800) 321-OSHA

OSHA 3267-09N-05
 
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  Page last updated: 2005