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Carbon Monoxide Exposure


Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that you cannot see, taste, or smell. Carbon monoxide exposure happens when you breathe in CO gas. You can be poisoned by exposure to high levels of CO. Patients with mild poisoning usually recover completely with oxygen treatment. Severe poisoning can cause permanent brain injury or be life-threatening.


Follow up with your primary healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to return to have more tests. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Prevent CO poisoning:

  • Install a CO detector in your sleeping area. Place it 5 feet above the floor and away from fireplaces or gas-burning equipment.

  • Check your chimney, furnace, or wood stoves. Check for problems every year before you use them. Have your fireplace flue cleaned on a regular basis.

  • Do not use your gas kitchen oven to heat your home.

  • Do not use barbecues or heaters that burn fuel inside your home or other closed spaces.

  • Do not let motor vehicles run in closed areas. This includes letting your car run in a garage. If the car is outside, check that the exhaust pipe is not blocked. Make sure there is good air flow around you if you must stand near vehicle or equipment exhaust.

Do not smoke:

If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Cigarette smoke contains small amounts of CO. This increases your risk of CO poisoning if you are exposed to a source of CO. Ask your primary healthcare provider for information if you need help quitting.

For more information:

  • American Association of Poison Control Centers
    3201 New Mexico Avenue, Suite 330
    Washington , DC 20016
    Phone: 1- 202 - 3627217
    Web Address:
  • Environmental Protection Agency
    Office of Radiation and Indoor Air Indoor Environments Division
    1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Mail Code 6609J
    Washington , DC 20460
    Phone: 1- 202 -
    Web Address:

Contact your primary healthcare provider if:

  • You feel dizzy.

  • You have a headache or start to vomit.

  • Your eyesight becomes blurred.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have chest pain or an irregular or fast heartbeat.

  • You have trouble breathing or need to breathe faster than normal.

  • You faint or have a seizure.

  • You feel weak, have trouble moving or have severe muscle pain.

  • Your urine becomes dark or red.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.