Carbon Monoxide Assessment – Evaluating Environments for an Invisible Hazard
Insight IH Consulting is very experienced in carbon monoxide assessment. We have performed hundreds of personal breathing zone evaluations, detailed mapping investigations, and can pinpoint sources and recommend corrective actions based upon the data and observations.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous, colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas. Although it has no detectable odor, CO is often mixed with other gases that do have an odor. So, you can
inhale carbon monoxide right along with gases that you can smell and not even know that CO is present.
CO is a common industrial hazard resulting from the incomplete burning of natural gas and any other material containing carbon such as gasoline, kerosene, oil, propane, coal, or wood. Forges, blast furnaces and coke ovens produce CO, but one of the most common sources of exposure in the workplace is the internal combustion engine. As such, propane-powered forklifts are a very common contributor. When out of tune, forklifts can produce copious amounts of the gas. The resulting concentrations can build in locations that are lacking exhaust and supply ventilation (i.e. warehouses designed for battery-powered forklifts). Forklifts are not the only culprits in industry however. Other observed sources include space heaters, pressure washers, pumps, and gas-powered tools.
Additional Information, Links
A quick search of the web can quickly yield some articles that emphasize the seriousness of overlooking carbon monoxide in an industrial environment:
1. Worker found dead at Port Edwards warehouse
2. Forklift Operator Dies of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
3. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Associated with Use of LPG-Powered (Propane) Forklifts in Industrial Settings
4. Small Gasoline Powered Engines: Carbon Monoxide Hazards (CDC)
Check out an Insight article that touches on some of the challenges inherent to carbon monoxide assessment: Industrial Hygiene Misconceptions #2 – Carbon Monoxide in All the Wrong Places
Typically, assessment involves affixing CO monitors in the employee’s breathing zone which are worn during the work shift. The device logs concentrations, at intervals as short as one second. The downloaded data reveals the changing concentrations over time and allows for comparison to both the OSHA/ACGIH full-shift exposure limit and NIOSH ceiling limit.
Insight IH Consulting has extensive experience in personal and area carbon monoxide assessment. We also have a strong history in mapping concentrations (click here for more information) of carbon monoxide and in the root-causes evaluation (additional information located here) of carbon monoxide exposures.