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KU-EHS November Safety Tip: Carbon Monoxide

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Today, we’re going to talk about carbon monoxide — a potentially deadly hazard that can strike both on and off the job.

1. Why is carbon monoxide so dangerous?
Carbon monoxide is:

  • Poisonous
  • Colorless
  • Odorless
  • Tasteless

In other words, there is no way to tell you are breathing in carbon monoxide until symptoms surface.

2. What causes carbon monoxide to form?
Carbon monoxide results from the incomplete burning of natural gas and any other material containing carbon, such as:

  • Gasoline
  • Kerosene
  • Oil
  • Propane
  • Coal
  • Wood

3. True or False? One of the most common sources of carbon monoxide exposure in the workplace is the internal combustion engine.

This answer is true.

4. What are some common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
Additional sources can include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea

Large amounts of carbon monoxide can cause you to lose consciousness and suffocate within minutes of initial exposure.

5. What steps can you take to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning?

  • If you experience any symptoms that could suggest exposure to carbon monoxide, report them immediately
  • Make sure there is adequate ventilation in enclosed areas where burning fuels may release carbon monoxide
  • Do not use gas-powered engines in enclosed spaces
  • If your job requires the use of a respirator, wear one
  • Report any concerns you have about carbon monoxide to a manager or supervisor

A Final Note

Because carbon monoxide can form in many environments, be sure to install carbon monoxide detectors throughout your residence. Early detection is essential to prevent neurological damage or death.

Report A Safety Concern

Report a concern to KU-EHS

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