An important indoor air quality concern is the possibility that combustion pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, may enter the building. Considering the following may help ensure that combustion pollutants do not become a problem in your workplace.
What Can CO Do to You?
Carbon monoxide (a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas) is one of the most common industrial hazards. Mild exposure can cause such symptoms as nausea, dizziness, or headaches. Severe poisoning can result in brain or heart damage or even death. The incomplete burning of gasoline, natural gas, oil, kerosene, propane, charcoal, or wood produces the poisonous gas. One of the most common sources of exposure in the industrial workplace is the internal combustion engine. Forges, blast furnaces and coke ovens also produce carbon monoxide.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have established a range of permissible exposure limits for carbon monoxide:
- 35 ppm for an 8-hour time-weighted average
- 200 ppm for a short-term limit (five minutes)
- 1500 ppm for an instantaneous limit
If there is a potential for exposure to carbon monoxide in your workplace:
- Include carbon monoxide in the company's Hazard Communication Program inventory list of hazardous chemicals.
- Obtain a material safety data sheet (MSDS) for carbon monoxide and include information on carbon monoxide in the Hazard Communication Program.
- Post a carbon monoxide warning sign in each area where there is a potential for carbon monoxide exposure and include it in the company's annual "Right-to-Know" training.