Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, tasteless gas that can kill in minutes at high levels. Symptoms of low level poisoning are shortness of breath, mild nausea and headaches. Moderate level symptoms include severe headaches, dizziness, mental confusion, nausea and fainting. Long term exposure can lead to death.
The OSHA standard for exposure to CO is 50 ppm. OSHA prohibits worker exposure to more than 50 ppm per air averaged during an 8 hour time period. The 8 hour PEL for CO in maritime operations is also 50 ppm. However, maritime workers must be removed from exposure if the CO concentration in the atmosphere exceeds 100 ppm.
If you exhibit symptoms of CO poisoning, your first priority is to get to fresh air. Open all doors and windows, turn off all combustion appliances and leave the building. Make your way directly to the emergency room and inform the doctor that you suspect that you may have CO poisoning. If you have been exposed, your doctor is able to pick this up with a blood test.
Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by reporting any situation to your employer that may lead to CO build up. Be alert to ventilation problems, especially where gases or burning fuels may be released.