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How To Protect Against Carbon Monoxide
disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Christine Dell'amore
Washington (UPI) Dec 27, 2006
A recent wave of carbon monoxide poisonings should warn consumers about the dangers of the odorless gas, federal officials say.

Hundreds of Americans were sickened by carbon monoxide in December, including at least 14 deaths, after a violent windstorm in the Pacific Northwest knocked out power in more than 1.5 million homes and businesses. The storm forced many residents to rely on generators for power, raising the likelihood of exposure to carbon monoxide, a byproduct of burning fuel.

Often called the "invisible killer," carbon monoxide causes 100 U.S. deaths a year from unintentional exposure to consumer products, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Symptoms include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness.

The commission advises consumers to:

-- Look for signs that could suggest appliance problems, such as decreased hot-water supply, a continuously running furnace, soot on appliances and vents, an unfamiliar or burning odor and increased moisture inside of windows.

-- Install battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms or plug-in carbon monoxide alarms with battery backup. Place the alarm in the hallway near bedrooms. Test the alarm frequently, and replace dead batteries. Although an alarm can add protection, it's no substitute for proper upkeep of appliances that produce carbon monoxide.

The Environmental Protection Agency also recommends the following actions:

-- Avoid placing fuel-burning devices in confined places. Gasoline-powered generators and pressure washers, camp stoves and lanterns and charcoal grills should not be put in homes, garages, attics or crawl spaces, or within 10 feet of windows and doors.

-- Check vents and chimneys. Make sure debris does not block the exhaust from water heaters and gas furnaces. Look regularly for cracks, rust or stains.

-- Get a professional's advice. Hire someone to check all your appliances at the beginning of every heating season. Ask the technician to ensure all flues and chimneys are connected and in good condition.

-- Don't idle your car in the garage, even if the door is open. Dangerous fumes can accumulate quickly in the garage and in your home.

-- Avoid using a gas oven to heat your home, even momentarily.

-- Don't sleep in any room with an unvented gas or kerosene space heater.

-- Read all of the instructions that come with any fuel-burning device. If you cannot avoid using an unvented gas or kerosene space heater, carefully follow the warnings about the device. For instance, use the proper fuel and keep doors to the rest of the house open. Crack a window to ensure enough air for ventilation and proper fuel-burning.

-- Don't operate a charcoal grill indoors, even in a fireplace.

-- Pay attention to your health. If you feel sick, dizzy or weak when a fuel-burning appliance is active, seek fresh air immediately, and then find someone to take you to the emergency room. Don't second-guess yourself; if you wait, you could lose consciousness.

-- Call EPA's IAQ INFO Clearinghouse at (800) 438-4318 or the Consumer Product Safety Commission at (800) 638-2772 for more information or visit

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Bogus Data Masks Scale Of Pollution Woes Facing China
Beijing (AFP) Dec 28, 2006
Soaring pollution levels in China may be even worse than thought because local governments bent on economic growth are lying about their progress in meeting environmental goals, state media said Thursday.

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