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Environmental Health - Information - Combustion Pollutants


Do you use gas, oil, wood, kerosene, or coal to heat your home, water, or to cook? If so, are you aware that these fuels and the equipment you use have the potential to pollute the air in your home?

Sources of Combustion Pollutants

Combustion pollutants in the home come from a variety of sources:

  • Heating or cooking appliances that burn fossil fuels:
    • Gas
    • Oil
    • Coal or wood furnaces or boilers
    • Gas or oil water heaters
    • Gas or kerosene space heaters
    • Fireplaces Wood or coal stoves
    • Gas ranges and ovens
    • Gas clothes dryers
  • Tobacco smoking
  • Exhaust from automobile engines operating in attached garages
  • Other equipment with internal combustion engines, such as lawn mowers or generators
  • Other combustion/burning activities, such as welding or soldering
  • Gas or charcoal grills and hibachis

What is Carbon Monoxide?

The combustion pollutant carbon monoxide (CO) is of greatest concern because it can be fatal. Hundreds of people are killed each year by CO in their homes.

Carbon monoxide can build up in an enclosed space and it is odorless and colorless, so you may not be able to sense what is making you sick. Carbon monoxide reduces the ability of hemoglobin in the blood to carry oxygen. Health effects or symptoms of CO poisoning can be similar to other illnesses, such as the flu or allergies.

Lower doses of CO:
Nausea, dizziness, weakness, muscle aches.

Higher doses of CO:
Impaired judgment, paralysis, coma, death.

Page last updated: 07/9/13