Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

What Is It?

Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, colorless, odorless gas found in the fumes of fuels that contain carbon, such as wood, coal and gasoline. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a potentially fatal illness that occurs when people breathe in carbon monoxide.

All sorts of sources can release carbon monoxide, including cars, trucks, small gasoline engines (like lawnmowers), stoves, lanterns, furnaces, grills, gas ranges, water heaters and clothes dryers. The risk of poisoning is especially high when equipment is used in an enclosed place and ventilation is poor. Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur in victims of smoke inhalation during a fire. More than one-third of carbon monoxide-related deaths occur when the victim is asleep.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »