Thomas Jefferson University

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide (CO0, which is also known as the “Silent Killer”, is a poisonous, colorless, odorless gas which blocks oxygen from entering the body.  Many people may suffer permanent damage to parts of their body or even die when exposed to large amounts of Carbon Monoxide.

Effects of CO Poisoning

Exposure to CO poisoning, in small or large amounts, can be dangerous and harmful.  Some effects of CO poisoning are brain and heart damage, illness, coma, and death.

Symptoms of CO Poisoning

Symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, dizziness, nausea, drowsiness, vomiting, muscle weakness, and chest pain.

Who is at risk?

Places where you can be exposed to CO poisoning are warehouses, boiler rooms, pulp, paper, and steel production, blast furnaces, and places using fuel-powered equipment.  The following occupations are at risk:

  • Construction Worker
  • Customs Inspector
  • Diesel engine operator
  • Fire Fighter
  • Forklift
  • Garage Mechanic
  • Marine Terminal Worker
  • Metal Oxide Reducer
  • Organic Chemical Synthesizer
  • Police Officer
  • Taxi Driver
  • Toll Booth or Tunnel Attendant

Preventing CO Exposure

The following steps should be taken to reduce the chances of CO Poisoning.

  • Consider using equipment powered by electricity or compressed air
  • Maintain and use equipment and appliances (e.g. space heaters, stoves) that are in good working order to reduce CO buildup.
  • If you are exposed to CO poisoning go get fresh air immediately and seek medical attention.
  • Prohibit the use of gasoline-powered equipment in enclosed or partially enclosed areas.
  • Report any situation to your employer that might cause CO to accumulate.
  • Be alert to ventilation problems.
  • Report flu-like symptoms.

REMEMBER:  If you are exposed to CO Poisoning report exposure to your supervisor and seek medical attention immediately.