Another example of looking in the wrong
places for carbon monoxide issues.
First, the picture is misleading. It doesn't pertain to the story. (It is probably a "stock"
photo from their archives.)
The story says elevated CO levels were "diagnosed" by the Fire Department to be caused by the stove-oven, which
was removed by City code enforcement officials and the apartment maintenance workers. Nothing in the article
mentions their furnace. And since this an apartment, it is doubtful that it would have an outside
packaged-unit for heating and cooling.
Second, the picture shows a service technician with a rod of some sort poking around a heat
exchanger. The caption says "uses a carbon monoxide detector probe to check for cracks and leaks in this outside
gas furnace heat exchanger". Do you see a carbon monoxide meter? Hint, the only way to test for CO
is with the equipment running.
Third, the Fire Department can only guess at what caused elevated levels of carbon monoxide.
They don't have the test equipment or training to begin to make an accurate diagnosis. They are taught that if gas
appliances are present, then they are probably the cause of any carbon monoxide issues. (In most cases the
appliances do, in fact, produce the carbon monoxide in question. However, it is generally other situations -
blocked flues, inadequate air, recirculated exhaust, disconnected duct work, etc.- that are the real
The article goes on to talk about how using a stove to heat your home during a power outage can lead to carbon
monoxide poisoning, lists some OHSA values for acceptable CO levles, but doesn't tell the whole story.
For example, it states that OSHA "sets carbon monoxide exposure of 100 parts per million or greater as
"dangerous to human health" and limits long-term workplace exposure to 50 ppm over one eight-hour period".
What is not mentioned is that Underwriter's Laboratories (the agency that approves how appliances are made) states
that residential gas ovens are allowed to emit up to 800ppm of carbon monoxide for short periods of time.)
So, if the oven had been running, even for a few minutes, it may have produced enough CO to cause some high
readings in the kitchen. Yet, there is probably nothing wrong with the oven.
The point is -- the occupants were using the stove to heat the apartment. They
evidently didn't have any windows open (no fresh air), so the oven started burning "stale" air (which is
recirculated exhaust gasses.) Once it starts doing that, CO comes pouring out of the stove.
Airco Services heating and cooling technician
Dave Spears uses a carbon monoxide detector probe to check for cracks and leaks in
this outside gas furnace heat exchanger. When he found one, the city of Tulsa's
"mechanical code" forced him to shut off the gas to this house until the unit could be
repaired or replaced. Tulsa World file
Published: 1/22/2012 2:27 AM
Last Modified: 1/22/2012 2:44 AM
There were no carbon monoxide poisoning
deaths in Tulsa County in 2011, although the Emergency Medical Services Authority answered
104 "requests for assistance with suspected carbon monoxide poisoning," said agency
spokesman Chris Stevens.
This year, there has been one death of "suspected carbon monoxide
poisoning," but autopsy results are still pending with the state Medical Examiner's
On Jan. 11, a 53-year-old man was pronounced dead at St. John Medical Center and a
51-year-old woman was hospitalized in fair condition with an "elevated carbon monoxide" level after
EMSA answered a 911 call about "two people with breathing problems" at the Plaza Hills East
apartment complex, 13025 E. 16th Place in Tulsa.
Tulsa Fire Department Capt. Michael Baker said the apartment's carbon monoxide level was five
times the safe level. TFD's Hazardous Materials Unit tested the room air and found it contained 53
parts per million of carbon monoxide. The Environmental Protection Agency's safe level for carbon
monoxide is 9 parts per million. None of the other units in the apartment building had elevated
Firefighters determined the carbon monoxide source was the apartment's oven and stove, Baker
said. City code enforcement officials and an apartment maintenance crew removed the stove. Carbon
monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas produced by burning fuel (natural gas) and inadequate
ventilation. This concentrates in the kitchen, posing a carbon monoxide poisoning
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