Carbon monoxide—a colorless, odorless gas—is produced from the partial oxidation of carbon-containing compounds. It forms when there is not enough oxygen to produce carbon dioxide. “Whenever you have any ordinary combustible
materials burning, one of the byproducts of that combustion is going to be carbon monoxide,” says Gregory Harrington, of the National Fire Prevention Association. During the process of combustion, the incomplete burning of fuels such as oil, gas, kerosene, wood, coal, and propane creates gases and small particles referred to as byproducts.
Combustion byproducts can enter hotels directly from the use of unvented kerosene and gas heaters, fireplaces, boilers, and stoves. They also can enter and accumulate as a result of poorly ventilated appliances and from cars idling in attached parking garages.
Exposure to carbon monoxide can cause sickness or, in the most serious cases, death. “When carbon monoxide gets into your bloodstream, your blood doesn’t absorb enough oxygen,” Harrington notes. “It’s a
cumulative effect, so the longer you’re exposed to the gas, the more hazardous it will be.”