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Carbon Monoxide in Wood Smoke

PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2009 1:32 am
by Wilberforce
One poor soul in Connecticut is being molested (no, terrorized) by heavy wood smoke
from a next-door neighbor's chimney. I suggested she install a carbon monoxide detector
(one which has a digital readout in parts per million) Her reading was well over 200 ppm
inside of her home. She is suffering severe headaches; this is one symptom of CO poisoning.
CO destroys hemoglobin in the red blood cells, thus suffocating the victim.

At 2000 ppm of CO, death occurs.

Rats (which are hardy creatures) succumb to 2000ppm in less than 20 minutes.

Anyone who is experiencing headaches, nausea, etc must get away from the source of
the poison gas as soon as possible and the source of the poison gas must be shut down.
It is a well-known fact that incomplete combustion of carbon-based fuels can result in
dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. This is especially true of internal-combustion
engines and glowing coals at the base of wood (and coal) fires. A blue flame present in
the ash pit of a fireplace is burning CO. Absent a blue flame, much CO is being formed
whether a sufficient supply of air is present or not.

I am working on a project which cites CO and Haber's Law, and will be posting the charts soon.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 9:02 pm
by turning_blue
I am bumping this. This is very important.

PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2009 1:57 pm
by Limey
This is right. At 200ppm the COhb rises to over 20% after a few hours. At this level, people experience throbbing headaches. Higher than this they experience dizziness and nausea.

See: ... s/co/6.htm


for the relationship between COHb and CO levels.

Re: Carbon Monoxide

PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:15 pm
by Wilberforce
What Do Carbon Monoxide Levels Mean?

Carbon Monoxide Kills

Smoke & CO Alarm Ratings

Professional Grade CO Gas Detectors & Analyzers ... detectors/

Carbon Monoxide News

Re: Carbon Monoxide

PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:56 pm
by Wilberforce
Safety Information for Carbon Monoxide Gas Levels

● 0-1 ppm - Normal background level
● 9 ppm - Maximum indoor air quality level
● 50 ppm - Maximum concentration for continuous exposure in any 8 hour average level
● 200 ppm - Mild headache, fatigue, nausea and dizziness
● 400 ppm - Frontal headache, life threatening after 3 hours
● 800 ppm - Death within 2 hours
● 1600 ppm - Nausea within 20 minutes, death within 1 hour
● 12800 ppm - Death within 1 to 3 minutes

Re: Carbon Monoxide

PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2010 6:02 pm
by Wilberforce
My new carbon monoxide detector has just arrived. It is the Professional Equipment model # G406-0670. ... detectors/

And I have a chance to use it tonight. I smell a very noticeable wood smoke odor coming directly from a
chimney 200 feet away. The reading is topping out at 9 parts per million CO, (against a calibrated zero
ppm indoors) 9 ppm is the allowable maximum limit for exposure. Anything higher than this can be
considered illegal, if the origin is an easily-located point (single) source.

Those victims of outdoor wood boiler smoke should buy one of these instruments if they can afford one.
I don't know whether authorities are able (or willing) to shut down a particulate source, but they cannot
stand by and ignore a dangerous CO source.

A reading of over 50 ppm CO on one's property needs to be immediately reported to authorities.


The only complaint I have is that this unit has a continuous beeper, which I find annoying, and it is not
possible to remain unnoticed while walking about one's neighborhood, this thing beeping all the time.
I might suggest purchase of a unit which has an on-off beeper switch. There are many models to choose
from on the site I've posted here. But then, the beep is really not all that loud...

Re: Carbon Monoxide

PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2010 9:31 pm
by Tomfirth
Congratulations on your new measuring device. Please let us know what the readings indicate. Which authorities would you attempt to contact?

Re: Carbon Monoxide

PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2010 10:26 pm
by Wilberforce
We have an environment committee in our town, but they deal with water pollution and parks, etc.
I asked if they deal with air pollution, the reply was "We haven't thought of that." I offered to volunteer
as a consultant on air-quality issues in town, including firepits, out-of-tune city vehicles (school buses etc).
I did not get the appointment, as (A) someone more qualified than I was available and (B) The town
fathers really don't know me (yet)

For now, the Fire Department, or the town building inspector would be the people to call. We really do
need an air-quality board here, and I intend to make that happen... (and I don't expect to get paid -
cleaning the air up around here is more than enough payment for me)

Re: Carbon Monoxide

PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 6:19 pm
by Wilberforce
Senate Considers CO Bill
January 29, 2010

Every year, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning kills approximately 500 Americans and hospitalizes
about 4,000. Roughly 73 percent of CO exposures causing these cases occur in homes. Sources
of CO include house fires, faulty furnaces, heaters, wood-burning stoves, internal combustion
vehicle exhaust, electrical generators, propane-fueled equipment such as portable stoves, and
gasoline-powered tools such as lawnmowers.

In recent years, postdisaster deaths from CO poisoning have raised particular concerns in the
emergency management community. Data have shown that on average, 170 people die every
year as a result of CO poisoning associated with the kinds of portable generators and charcoal
grills people use inside the home or enclosed garages after power outages. Municipal fire
departments respond to an estimated 60,000 nonfire CO incidents annually.

These and other statistics about this “silent killer” were presented by Kelvin J. Cochran, who
heads the United States Fire Administration at the Department of Homeland Security, and other
witnesses at a hearing on CO poisoning convened by the Senate Committee on Commerce,
Science, and Transportation.

CO, which is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, is indeed a stealthy menace, but the witnesses
agreed that installation of carbon monoxide alarms on every level of every home would go a
long way toward reducing casualties.

Support was also expressed in the meeting for the Residential Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Prevention Act (S. 1216), which would amend the Consumer Product Safety Act to require that
carbon monoxide alarms meet a mandatory consumer product safety standard. The bill would
also require the Consumer Products Safety Commission to establish a grant program to provide
assistance to states to carry out CO alarm programs.

Currently, Minnesota, Illinois, Alaska, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, and Georgia have all
passed legislation to address CO poisoning in family homes by requiring CO alarms within
10 or 15 feet of any bedroom.

S. 1216 is available at

source ... s-CO-Bill/

Re: Carbon Monoxide in Wood Smoke

PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 8:20 pm
by candi
I have a couple questions about CO/testing. Does each state set a limit for allowable CO emissions, or is 9 ppm the allowable limit nationwide in the US? I haven't had much luck looking it up. Also, I'm trying to find a meter to test potentially low levels (below 30 ppm) and I can't afford to spend much. I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations on meters/sites? I've checked amazon, ebay, and some others and most were over $100.

Re: Carbon Monoxide in Wood Smoke

PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 10:09 pm
by Wilberforce
The one pictured above is over $200, but you might try some of the cheaper brands perhaps here: ... ufacturers

Or google carbon monoxide detector (anything cheaper may not have a digital readout
or, if it does, accuracy may not be good - (critical in testing low levels of CO.)

Re: Carbon Monoxide in Wood Smoke

PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 12:38 pm
by candi
I was able to find one on sale for about $85. It has no display, but it plugs into your computer to upload data...which I think would come in handy for any legal proof. After I posted my question, I did some more digging and found that basically all the ones that read low levels are going to be expensive because of the thechnology. Thanks for the link, I will check it out. I can't find much about that 9 ppm limit, except on a couple of the meter websites...and it's vague. Is that an epa law? I'd really like to be able to use that as an option for getting something done about this smoke if I can....and I think that might do the trick once I get a meter. It's on my buy as soon as possible list :)

Re: Carbon Monoxide in Wood Smoke

PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 3:01 pm
by Wilberforce
9 ppm - Maximum indoor air quality level

I don't know of any specific law which bans whichever maximum, except the OSHA standards, and they
only apply to industry, and these standards are usually quite lax, as they are meant to be a compromise
between industry and regulators. Ideally, there would be zero CO in our homes, and even 9ppm
constitutes an elevated level of CO, a fact which can be used against the burner, along with the presence
of PM and VOCs (benzene, for example, a group A carcinogen). Not to mention nuisance odors.

The OSHA limit of CO is 50ppm ... &p_id=9992

Remember this is an industry ceiling, not a private home with sleeping babies.

Montana communities ranked for worst CO pollution numbers

PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2010 6:41 pm
by Wilberforce
Montana communities ranked for worst CO pollution numbers
Posted: Monday, 03 May 2010 5:02PM
Maritsa Georgiou (05/03/10)

Most Montanans are shocked to hear our cities are among the worst in the country for carbon monoxide pollution.

Montana is the state known for its big skies and wide open spaces. So, it's not the first place you think of when someone says pollution. Several people we spoke with were surprised to hear that statistic.

In a 2005 study, cities from Spokane to Birmingham made the list. But, Missoula County ranked 16 for highest carbon monoxide pollution readings. Yellowstone and Silverbow Counties followed at 28 and 29, and Flathead at 69th place.

Carbon monoxide experts say valleys, inversions and wood burning are the main contributors.

"The hard part, again, is for people to come to grips with this, because historically, we've burned wood, we've done open slash fires" CO expert Bob Dwyer said. "How else are we going to manage the forests? But when you take a look at the overall impact, then you see the health consequences."

Missoula County officials saw the writing on the wall. We found a Time Magazine article from 1984, which details Missoula's wood burning pollution problem and regulations hoping to change it.

"The main reason air quality has improved in the 1980s and early 1990s in the Missoula valley is the reduced use of wood stoves and the removal of the older inefficient wood stoves," air quality specialist Ben Schmidt said.

On May 14, the Montana Board of Environmental review will make a final ruling on changes proposed to Missoula's air pollution regulations. But what's the answer for other parts of the state like southwest and northwest Montana?

"That's a tough question for me to answer, because you're asking people to make some sacrifices and lifestyle changes they may not necessarily want to do or feel like they have to do," Dwyer said.

But, not everyone can imagine a Montana without the practice of wood burning.

One woman said, "We have wood heat. That's what we have, so that would be hard to say no wood heat, because then we wouldn't have anything!"

source ... Id=6037807

Re: Carbon Monoxide in Wood Smoke

PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 12:33 pm
by candi
Thanks for the ppm info. I haven't been able to get my meter yet, but thankfully the burning has MOSTLY stopped for the season. If mother nature would cooperate and remember it's May instead of March, I'd be happy :). My landlord and health dept are still refusing to do anything about it, but I'm not giving up. I know the meter will go a long way towards getting them to see things my way...and your info will be a huge push in the right direction when the time comes! Now, I just need to come up with the money (it's hard when you're unemployed and have tons of other stuff you need to buy).