Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is often referred to as a “silent killer” since it is a toxic gas that is odorless and tasteless.  In 2011 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated there were over 500 fatalities and 15,000 emergency room visits resulting from CO poisoning.  CO is produced as a by-product from the burning of fossil fuels such as propane, natural gas, oil, kerosene and wood.  At low levels, CO exposure can cause nausea or flu-like symptoms.  People with certain medical conditions can suffer greater impact at lower exposure levels.  Higher levels of exposure will cause unconsciousness and death.

Many businesses and homes have exposure to CO.  Examples include:

  • Leaking vents from furnace, gas fired hot water heater or gas fireplace
  • Portable generators and other gas powered construction equipment used outside but vented too close to a residence or building
  • Vehicle exhaust
  • Swimming pool heaters
  • Gas dryers
  • Vents blocked by snow or other obstructions

CO detectors are mandatory in many jurisdictions for residences and certain types of commercial operations such as schools, nursing homes, lodging and apartment operations.  For example, Massachusetts requires that CO detectors be installed in any single or multifamily residence that has fossil fuel burning equipment or an attached enclosed garage.  This MA law requires detectors be installed on each level and must be located within 10 feet of each bedroom door.  Additional specifics can be found at

Numerous resources are available to learn more about the dangers of CO poisoning and loss prevention. Your insurance carrier or local fire departments are good sources for information.  The CDC has published a number of different resources which are available at

At Cleary, we will evaluate your business exposures and work with you to develop a comprehensive plan to safeguard your business. Give us a call today at 617-723-0700.