Carbon Monoxide

What is Carbon Monoxide (CO)?

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless poisonous gas.

Is it a health risk?

When a person breathes in CO it combines with the oxygen-carrying part of the blood, preventing it from absorbing oxygen, which is essential for life. If a person is exposed to significant levels of CO it can cause illness and even death. Unfortunately, CO causes preventable deaths and illnesses every year in Ireland and internationally.

How can I protect myself and my family from CO poisoning?

CO can be produced where there is an incomplete combustion process of various fuels and sometimes occurs when a heating appliance is faulty. People can protect themselves from CO poisoning by:

  • Using only safe serviced heating appliances
  • Ensuring ventilations systems are working
  • Installing a Carbon Monoxide alarm

What precautions should I take during flooding:

  • Be mindful of the risk of carbon monoxide when dealing with flooding situations.
  • Petrol or diesel generators and other fuel-driven equipment should never be used in unventilated spaces:
    • The exhaust gases contain carbon monoxide which, without good ventilation, can quickly build up to poisonous levels.
    • The same risk is carried by portable grills, camp stoves, paraffin- fuelled heaters or other devices using gasoline, propane or natural gas.  These should only be used in well-ventilated spaces.   
  • If you experience dizziness, headaches or disorientation, the appliance should be switched off, you should move to a well-ventilated area and seek medical advice
  • For further public health advice for dealing with flooding situations, please click here.

For more information, please see the dedicated Carbon Monoxide website.

Information for GPs and other health professionals here.