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Sources of Indoor Air Pollution — Carbon Monoxide (CO)

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Save  Download a PDF Fact Sheet

Indoor Environments Division (6607J)
Office of Air and Radiation
EPA-402-F-96-005, October 1996

Definition

Colorless gas or liquid; practically odorless. Burns with a violet flame. Slightly soluble in water; soluble in alcohol and benzene. Specific gravity 0.96716; boiling point -190oC; solidification point -207oC; specific volume 13.8 cu. ft./lb. (70oF). Auto ignition temperature (liquid) 1128oF. Classed as an inorganic compound.
Source: "The Condensed Chemical Dictionary," 9th ed., revised by Gessner G. Hawley, Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., NY, 1977.

Sources of Carbon Monoxide

Unvented kerosene and gas space heaters; leaking chimneys and furnaces; back-drafting from furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces; gas stoves; generators and other gasoline powered equipment; automobile exhaust from attached garages; and tobacco smoke.

Health Effects Associated with Carbon Monoxide

At low concentrations, fatigue in healthy people and chest pain in people with heart disease. At higher concentrations, impaired vision and coordination; headaches; dizziness; confusion; nausea. Can cause flu-like symptoms that clear up after leaving home. Fatal at very high concentrations.

Levels in Homes

Average levels in homes without gas stoves vary from 0.5 to 5 parts per million (ppm). Levels near properly adjusted gas stoves are often 5 to 15 ppm and those near poorly adjusted stoves may be 30 ppm or higher.

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