Carbon monoxide poisoning is caused by inhaling combustion fumes. When there's too much carbon monoxide in the air, your body replaces the oxygen in the hemoglobin of your red blood cells with carbon monoxide. This keeps life-sustaining oxygen from reaching your tissues and organs.
Various appliances fueled by wood or gas produce carbon monoxide, including:
- Fuel-burning space heaters
- Charcoal grills
- Cooking ranges
- Water heaters
- Portable generators
- Wood-burning stoves
- Car and truck engines
Normally the amount of carbon monoxide produced by these sources isn't cause for concern. But if appliances aren't kept in good working order or if they're used in a closed or partially closed space — such as using a charcoal grill indoors or running your car in a closed garage — the carbon monoxide can build to dangerous levels.
Smoke inhalation during a fire also can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
Feb. 21, 2012
- Aulakh SK. Carbon monoxide poisoning. In: Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2012: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05611-3..C2009-0-38601-8--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05611-3&uniqId=291436269-101. Accessed Jan. 19, 2012.
- Lavonas EJ. Carbon monoxide poisoning. In: Shannon MW, et al. Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2007. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/167411074-4/908443298/2045/92.html#4-u1.0-B978-0-7216-0693-4..50092-X_3027. Accessed Jan. 19, 2012.
- Carbon monoxide poisoning: Frequently asked questions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/co/faqs.htm. Accessed Jan. 19, 2012.
- Carbon monoxide questions and answers. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/466.html. Accessed Jan. 19, 2012.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.