Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2011 06:59:16 -0600
Reply-To: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Ray Cook <raycook**At_Symbol_Here**APEXHSE.COM>
Subject: FW: [DCHAS-L] CO Monitor Video

Greetings All!

Bear in mind that in a residential setting, the purpose of the monitor is to alert in the event of a build-up of carbon monoxide gas, not to detect steady small concentrations as we do in the workplace.  When there is an event in a home leading to CO production, it usually starts out very low and gradually builds over 4 to 12 hours.  In the responses I have seen, there were no odors in the houses due to the presence of the gas, only a slight burning on the nasal passages.  The residents were either very nauseous, watery eyed and ill, or in one case at least, deceased.  Had there been a residential CO monitor in these houses, there is no doubt in my mind that the occupants would have been alerted that a problem existed.  As it was, they were not.  A simple venting problem can result in CO build-up in some homes due to the configuration of the structure itself.

I understand the initial concern, but realize these residential events are due (usually) to one time events where the gas tends to build fairly rapidly.  After detection, the home is evacuated/ventilated, the problem is determined and repaired.  As a safety  and health professional, I try to see that all of my associates and relatives have smoke detectors and CO monitors in their homes as a matter of course.


Raymond L. Cook, Jr.,  MSI H, CIH, CSP

Pri ncipal Consultant

Ape x HSE, LLC

htt p://

832 .477.4454

From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**] On Behalf Of Stephen Stepenuck
Sent: Tuesday, February 15, 2011 9:36 PM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] CO Monitor Video

I thought the same thing as I viewed it—If one is doing a risk assessment in a residential setting, particularly with target persons who are very young or elderly, an exposure time of 24 hr/d  would be very plausible, not 8 hr/d.   For these people, there might be no “recuperation time.”  Thus one would think that the home monitor should have an alarm point that is substantially lower than that in industry.

All I can think of is to educate everyone in the family re the symptoms of CO poisoning, so they can watch one another.  As  with hypothermia: “Believe the symptoms, not the victim.”

    One saving factor in the residential exposure is that the CO is not the pure compound from a cylinder, and is accompanied by other products of combustion that can be smelled.  Forced hot air heating systems can be especially vulnerable to this kind of problem.  I have detected cracked heat exchangers in more than one home by simply smelling the combustion gas mixture.  So another piece of advice might be to educate anyone (like your college-aged kids or just-out-of-college kids, parents, et al.) who is or might be living in quarters that might have an older [>10years?] heating system [especially hot air] to be on the alert for any “smoky” smell, and to follow up immediately with a professional furnace inspection, monitoring, and appropriate repairs.  Wood stoves and combustion-based space heaters could also be suspect.

Steve Stepenuck

Stephen J. Stepenuck, Ph.D.
Professor of chemistry emeritus
Keene State College
Keene NH 03435-2001

Ernie Lippert wrote:

An interesting presentation. It brings up the question of whether residential CO detectors belong in the home! Does anyone have some good advice?
Ernie Lippert

On Wed, Jan 26, 2011 at 12:14 PM, Demer, Frank R - (demer) <demer**At_Symbol_Here**> wrote:

We produced a low budget video on Why Residential Carbon Monoxide Monitors Don't Belong in the Workplace? (Windows Media <> , Quicktime <>  formats) to try and dispel some of the misconceptions researchers have about the devices.  Maybe you all might find it useful.
Frank R. Demer, MS, CIH, CSP
Health Safety Officer
University of Arizona
Department of Risk Management & Safety
Phone:  520.621.3585
Fax:  520.621.3706
Mailing Address:  P.O. Box 210300, Tucson, AZ  85721-0300
Street Address:  220 W. 6th St., Tucson, AZ 85701
Web Address: <>  

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