Carbon monoxide (CO) is a potentially deadly combustion gas. Outdoors, CO is
produced by cars and trucks, industrial boilers, fireplaces, barbecues and
virtually all types of combustion.
CO is colorless and has no smell. Exposure to CO prevents hemoglobin in the
blood from carrying oxygen to the tissues of the body. Exposure to CO is
measured by the amount of carboxyhemoglobin in the blood. Persons with
cardiovascular or respiratory disease are particularly susceptible to the
effects of CO as their bodies may already be having difficulty getting enough
Outdoors, CO is usually highest near heavy traffic or inside cars in
stop-and-go traffic or near stop lights.
The Houston area as a whole has only exceeded the federal health standard
for CO once, on a cold Christmas eve when an abnormally large number of
households were burning fires in their fireplaces.
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