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Carbon monoxide analyzer (CO) is a poisonous gas that can build up to dangerous levels in enclosed spaces without sufficient ventilation. It is produced when carbon fuels such as wood, gasoline, coal, propane, heating oil and natural gas fail to burn completely (incomplete combustion). This invisible killer can seep out of faulty stoves or furnaces, cars or generators in homes, apartments or garages or from open flame cooking. It is also a problem when occupants are asleep in rooms with such appliances. CO binds to red blood cells and blocks their ability to carry oxygen, starving them. In large amounts, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause unconsciousness and death within minutes.

Home detectors typically sound an alarm if they detect a dangerous concentration of CO. They often have a digital display of the concentration in parts per million. Some models can record the peak level measured over a period of time to aid in finding the source of the CO.

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Professional-grade analyzers are used to monitor carbon monoxide in a variety of industrial applications. Typical uses include monitoring the off-gas stream from EAFs in steel-making, as well as measuring carbon monoxide in metal heat treat applications. These analyzers may use infrared, semiconductor or electrochemical technology.

A portable carbon monoxide analyser can be an invaluable tool for a fire department to detect CO in the field. These units can be connected to a hose and be carried to a suspected source of CO. They can then be used to identify the source and help prevent an unnecessary fire response.

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