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Best CO Detectors for Low Level

Oct 3

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly gas that must be taken seriously. It is known as the "silent killer" because it is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. This is the exact reason why so many states and cities have mandated carbon monoxide detectors in homes. Along with their importance for home safety, CO detectors are crucial when traveling, RV driving, and boating.



  • Carbon monoxide detectors help protect from unintentional CO exposure.
  • CO alarms are affordable.
  • A plethora of carbon monoxide detectors exist for a variety of applications.
  • Carbon monoxide symptoms may be seen as "flu like"
  • It can be difficult to track down the carbon monoxide source.
  • Public awareness of carbon monoxide poisoning is still limited.
  • Carbon monoxide is a silent killer.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas. OSHA emphasizes that carbon monoxide is a poisonous, colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas - making it very elusive. Although CO has no smell, it is often mixed with other gases that do have an odor (i.e. exhaust gas).

When carbon monoxide is inhaled, your body replaces the oxygen in your red blood cells with carbon monoxide. This leads to asphyxiation, serious tissue damage, brain damage, and even death.

Is Carbon Monoxide Dangerous? 

According to the CDC, about 430 people die in the USA each year from accidental CO poisoning. Approximately 50,000 Americans visit the emergency room yearly due to unintentional CO poisoning. 

What Are the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Exposure?

CO is particularly dangerous when sleeping, often leading to carbon monoxide poisoning at night. People may have irreversible brain damage or even die before anyone realizes there is a problem, hence the title of silent killer. The Mayo Clinic describes the typical signs of carbon monoxide exposure and poisoning as:

  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness

What Produces Carbon Monoxide?

The Cleveland Clinic highlights that CO is found in exhaust and flue gases produced during any form of combustion. Common examples and problem situations include:

  • Car and truck engines (leaving a car running in the garage).
  • Small gasoline engines (portable generators running in or close to the home).
  • Gas stoves and gas lanterns (using your home oven for heating).
  • Heating systems, including home furnaces (cracked heat exchangers and backdrafting effects).
  • Burning charcoal, kerosene, propane, or wood (indoor BBQ).
  • Tools with small engines such as saws (use in confined spaces is deadly).

What Should I Do If I Suspect Carbon Monoxide Is in My Home?

If you are experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms, immediately seek fresh outdoor air. Evacuate from your home and call 911.

If someone is unconscious or unable to leave the building, open nearby doors and windows, but do so without causing yourself harm. Don't forget, CO is odorless and tasteless so it is important to evacuate quickly. First responders have CO meters and can enter indoor spaces safely.

The fire department may be able to find the source of elevated carbon monoxide levels and provide guidance on the problem area. If it is a defective appliance, ensure it is inspected by a qualified professional, have the appliance repaired, or replaced.

Be vigilant if you are living in a building with other occupants as the CO may be coming from your neighbor. CO movement is elusive due to turbulence, micro plume, and draft effects that are hard to predict. The carbon monoxide source may be in location but the gas can travel to a totally different area.

What Is a Low Level CO Detector?

A low level carbon monoxide detector is a specially designed monitor to provide added protection for older adults, elderly, pregnant women, young children, and those with medical conditions. These groups may be more vulnerable to the adverse health effects of low levels of CO exposure.

As we showed previously, UL2034 CO detectors are not designed to measure levels in compliance with OSHA standards. To have that extra layer of protection from carbon monoxide exposure and symptoms, a low level CO detector may be warranted.

For example, the FORENSICS low level CO detector triggers an audible alarm when CO is detected > 25 ppm. Such low level CO alarming is closer to various government CO gas exposure limits than traditional detectors following UL2034 (70 ppm from 60 - 240 minutes).

However, a low level CO detector IS NOT a replacement for a UL2034 carbon monoxide detector, which is mandatory per most local codes and state legislation.

About The Author

Dr. Koz is the President of FORENSICS DETECTORS where the company operates from the scenic Palos Verdes Peninsula in Los Angeles, California. He is a subject matter expert on gas sensor technology, gas detectors, gas meters and gas analyzers. He has been designing, building, manufacturing and testing toxic gas detection systems for over 20 years.

gas detector expert

Everyday is a blessing for Dr. Koz. He loves to help customers solve their unique problems. Dr. Koz also loves spending time with his wife and his three children going to the beach, grilling burgers and having a cold beer. 

Read more about Forensics Detections here.

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