Poisoning Interventions

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Carbon monoxide alarms are designed in the style of smoke alarms: when the carbon monoxide level increases above a threshold level, the alarm sounds. Exposure limits for industry are regulated by OSHA, and currently specify a maximum concentration of 50 ppm. Residential exposure limits are less clear. Home CO detectors generally sound an alarm within 15 minutes when CO is 400 ppm, with increasingly longer delays to alarm, up to 8 hours when CO is 15 ppm.

Other important issues in evaluating the efficacy of CO alarms include the sensitivity and specificity of the alarm and the (often automatic) calibration of the instrument.

At this time, no studies exist examining the efficacy of carbon monoxide alarms.