December 21, 2007, Newsletter Issue #69: Exhaust Fumes and Indoor Air Pollution

Tip of the Week

In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Center For Disease Control was asked to investigate 78 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning. These cases were all indoor air pollution. The CDC concluded that in each case, diesel-powered generators were to blame. This kind of air pollution can't be remedied by air purification; after all, in an emergency situation where the power is out, running on generator power means running the bare necessities.

It is easy to assume that people foolishly operated generators inside the dwellings, but the CDC report indicates that in every case, the generator was outside the home. It doesn't take an indoor air specialist to figure out that the generators were far too close to the dwellings. The carbon monoxide entered the homes, and remained trapped there.

While the generator situation is obviously a special case, these situations are more common for people living in hurricane zones. Knowing how to safely operate generators and other emergency equipment is vital. Keeping a generator safely away from a dwelling is one of the most important factors, and a carbon monoxide detector is highly recommended by the CDC.

The Centers for Disease Control publish a fact sheet on how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning after a natural disaster. Click on http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/cofacts.asp to learn how you can keep your family safe.

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