How Do You Measure Carbon Monoxide Levels?

It is difficult to detect carbon monoxide without the use of special equipment. Carbon monoxide is a deadly colorless, odorless gas that can sometimes turn up in homes. Measuring carbon monoxide levels is easy to do and is a valuable part of home safety. Being aware of the carbon monoxide levels in your home will allow you to protect your loved ones from injury or death.

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Purchase a carbon monoxide monitor. They can be found at hardware stores or retailers like WalMart or Target. Some are portable meters which take measurements in the area where you are standing, while others are meant for wall sockets and will sound an alarm if carbon monoxide levels reach a dangerous point.

Place the carbon monoxide monitor in the room. If it plugs into a wall, place it in a higher socket rather than a low one. Carbon monoxide tends to float upward.

Read the instruction manual for exact details on how to get a reading from your monitor. You should get a reading in parts per million, or ppm. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, levels greater than 70 ppm can cause noticeable feelings of illness, and levels above 150 ppm can cause death.

Carbon monoxide can also be measured in the blood at a hospital. Tests will measure the amount of carboxyhemoglobin — a combination of carbon monoxide and hemoglobin which carries oxygen through the blood stream — in the blood. These tests are best administered by a professional.

Tips & Warnings

  • Carbon monoxide levels can also be measured using infrared and electrochemical instruments, but they are expensive. Carbon monoxide alarms are more affordable.
  • Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas. If you feel you may be in the presence of carbon monoxide fumes, open a window or door, turn on a fan or leave the house.
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