Release 07-61
December 13, 2007

    Dimitri Stanich

Wintertime carbon monoxide health advisory

SACRAMENTO - As winter approaches, the California Air Resources board is urging residents to take steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning at home and at work.

"Carbon monoxide can be a deadly poison," said Chairman Mary Nichols. "It is critical that Californians have indoor combustion appliances, such as heaters, stoves, fireplaces and wood stoves, checked annually to prevent illness or death. Installing and maintaining a carbon monoxide monitor can also save lives."

Each year, 30-40 Californians die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. Even below lethal levels, exposure to carbon monoxide may cause flu-like symptoms. These tragedies are easily preventable.

Nearly half of carbon monoxide poisoning deaths in California are from malfunctioning or improperly vented combustion appliances. Proper use and maintenance of appliances that produce a flame such as gas furnaces, gas and propane space heaters, and barbecues, can prevent exposure to lethal levels of carbon monoxide.

Here are some tips on how you can protect yourself, your family and loved ones:

If you are concerned about the safety of using your gas appliances, contact your local utility provider, state weatherization contractor, or utility-certified heating contractor immediately and request a "Combustion Appliance Safety Test."

Carbon monoxide blocks the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen to the heart and brain. The lack of oxygen leaves a person feeling sleepy. If the person is not removed from the area and treated, unconsciousness and death may result. Those most susceptible include infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and patients with pre-existing heart or respiratory conditions.

Free booklets, "Combustion Pollutants in Your Home" and "Wood burning Handbook," are available from ARB by calling (916) 322-8282 or by writing to: Air Resources Board, Indoor Air Quality Program, Research Division, P.O. Box 2815, Sacramento, CA 95812. They are also available on the web: /research/indoor/combustion.htm and /cap/handbooks/wood_burning_handbook.pdf .

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. 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.