For some time now it has been reported that the elderly are at a greater risk from CO poisoning than their younger counterparts. Low-levels of CO poisoning can cause chronic symptoms that are often misdiagnosed as something entirely different, leaving elderly patients in the ER at an even greater risk. Furthermore, a report from the Journal of the American Heart Association found that exposure to low-levels of carbon monoxide is associated with an increased risk of hospitalization for elderly with heart problems.
The EPA and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences have determined that an increase in carbon monoxide of just 1 part per million (in the maximum daily one-hour exposure limit) placed people over the age of 65 at an increased risk of hospitalization from cardiovascular disease.
The study further showed a higher risk for the elderly even when CO levels are increased even less than 1 ppm, well below the EPA's standard of 35 ppm over a 1-hour period.
"This evidence indicates that exposure to current carbon monoxide levels may still pose a public health threat," said Michelle Bell, the study's lead investigator and associate professor of environmental health at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. "Higher levels of carbon monoxide were associated with higher risk of hospitalizations for cardiovascular heart disease."
Bell and researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine based their findings on an analysis of hospital records for 9.3 million Medicare recipients and data on air pollution levels and weather gathered between 1999 and 2005. Their analysis took into account the health effects of other traffic-related pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide, fine particles and elemental carbon.
"We found a positive and statistically significant association between same-day carbon monoxide levels and an increased risk of hospitalization for cardiovascular disease in general, as well as for multiple, specific cardiovascular disease outcomes, including ischemic heart disease, heart rhythm disturbances, heart failure and cerebrovascular disease," Bell said.
How can you be certain you or a loved one are not at risk of CO poisoning?
Install quality, low-level carbon monoxide detectors designed to warn of unsafe levels before it’s too late. Installing CO detectors is simple, fast, and effective.
In addition to having low-level CO detectors installed in your home, the following recommendations will help reduce your risk to carbon monoxide poisoning:
- Ventilate, ventilate, ventilate. When using any gas appliance, be sure to properly ventilate the room by opening a window or by using an exhaust fan.
- Always have a licensed professional service each of your fuel-burning appliances annually, or as recommended by the manufacturer. This is one of the best ways to ensure a CO-free home.
- Always have fireplaces and or wood stove chimneys inspected and cleaned annually to avoid both CO and potential fires.
- Never use a fuel-burning stove, oven, or BBQ to heat your home.
- Never leave automobiles running in a garage or within close proximity to your home.
- Never operate generators, motorcycles, lawnmowers, or other fuel-burning devices inside enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces.
- Replace your fuel-burning appliances with electric appliances. Although the most expensive approach by far, carbon monoxide is not produced by electric powered appliances.
To help you choose the right CO detector, below are links to models we've personally tested. Keep in mind these are not the Kidde, First Alert, or other name brand smoke/CO detectors found in retail stores. We do NOT recommend those and therefore do not sell them. If you must have a UL rated CO detector, consider the Defender CA6150 as it will allow you to monitor low levels of CO by manually pushing a button. It’s the best compromise between a UL 2034 rated CO detector and a low-level CO detector.
Best Selling Models:
Home (UL Rated): Defender CA6150 10-Year Carbon Monoxide Alarm (with digital display)
Home (Low Level): Defender Low Level CO (Carbon Monoxide) Monitor - LL6170
Office: Defender CD8180 Battery Powered Commercial CO Detector (with digital display)
Travel: Sensorcon Inspector Industrial Pro (CO) Carbon Monoxide Detector Meter
Personal: Sensorcon Inspector (Standard) Carbon Monoxide Detector & CO Meter