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PEHSU Factsheet: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Children and Pregnant People > What is Carbon Monoxide?

What is Carbon Monoxide?

posted on Jan 31, 2022

Carbon monoxide is a toxic, colorless, odorless, tasteless, and flammable gas that is produced by the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons such as firewood, charcoal, gasoline, and natural gas. CO can quickly build up to unsafe levels in enclosed or semi-enclosed areas with poor ventilation, leading to death within minutes. Furthermore, this toxic gas can enter living spaces through poorly functioning windows or vents. It is a notorious cause of unintentional poison-related death in the United States (US), responsible for a total of 2,244 deaths between 2010-2015. In 2015 alone, 36% of all deaths occurred during the winter months of December, January, and February due to increased use of heating units, indoor cooking, and use of gas ovens to generate heat.24