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(January 09, 2009)

Bad air

Woman checking for gas leak in cooker
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From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.

You can’t taste it, smell it or see it. But carbon monoxide gas can sicken you or kill you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about 450 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning. And over one three-year period, over 60,000 people were treated in emergency departments.

Some illnesses and deaths happen during disasters, such as Hurricane Ike, when carbon monoxide from gas grills or emergency generators can get carried into homes. But CDC researcher Fuyuen Yip notes that the problem gets worse after hurricane season ends.

[Fuyuen Yip speaks] ``About two out of every five exposures are occurring in the winters, and it’s likely because of the increased use of furnaces, space heaters and seasonal appliances.’’

If your heating system can create carbon monoxide, get it serviced by a qualified technician.

Learn more at

HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Ira Dreyfuss.

Last revised: January, 09 2009