*This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of Winnetka Living, and is reprinted here with permission.
The Important Difference Between Standard and Low-Level Carbon Monoxide Detectors
By Keith Fisher, Owner at KEYTH® Technologies
There is a real and immediate need for low-level carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in our home, places of work, and basically everywhere we might be exposed to the so-called “silent killer.”
Standard UL Listed carbon monoxide alarms are able to help prevent fatalities, but standard CO monitors do not eliminate all the potential health risks of carbon monoxide. Standard UL Listed CO alarms sound only at the UL mandated standard of 70ppm (parts per million) + 1-2 hours delay. They are not allowed to sound when exposed to lower levels of CO.
Numerous studies have shown that any air containing over 10ppm CO is unsafe air. These lower concentrations of CO at regular exposure can cause serious health implications. Of special concern are those who are very young, pregnant, elderly, or those who have certain pre-existing chronic health conditions.
CO is a poisonous gas produced by the incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels during combustion. When inhaled, it deprives the blood stream of oxygen, which causes oxidative stress within our bodies and our brains. Regular exposure to CO at low levels can produce a variety of vague symptoms (dull headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath, confusion, blurred vision) that are often times not recognized as, or attributed to, carbon monoxide poisoning.
CO can accumulate in a home when the exhaust vents of a gas-powered furnace, water heater, fireplace, chimney or wood burning stove become clogged or develop leaks. Perhaps the most common cause of CO accumulation occurs when a car or any gas-powered motor in an attached garage is left running. It can also be due to any indoor source burning fuel such as a grill or a generator.
For the best protection against the lower levels of carbon monoxide exposure, you must employ a low-level CO detector. This device should be considered a supplement to standard UL Listed CO alarms.
To achieve early warning, CO detectors should be placed within 15 feet or closer of any sleeping area, and since we’re talking about air quality, it would not hurt to put one in each bedroom as well. There should also be at least one detector per floor in the main hallways of your home. Mount sensors in the breathing spaces 4-6 feet off the ground or on the ceiling, and four feet away from any HVAC supply or return air vent.
Now there are even portable low-level CO detectors that are useful safety measures to carry during our daily travels. We should recognize that the potential for low-level CO exposure in public areas such as hotel rooms, restaurants, schools, or on motorboats or small aircraft is rare, but still remains possible.
Awareness of the dangers and risks of low-level carbon monoxide exposure is important to our health and important to the health of our families and friends. Lives can be improved and saved with awareness, education, and with the simple protection of a low-level carbon monoxide detector.
Visit this important public service website for more information: coexperts.com.