Homes with gas appliances generate concentrations of gasses such as nitrogen dioxide and carbon dioxide. In a case of inadequate furnace ventilation these gases could leak into the living area and form a common household pollutant. They can be present in the kitchen, basement, living room, or furnace room. In the following section we discuss the molecular structure and the toxicity of these two gasses
1) Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical composed of two oxygen and one carbon atom and it is present in atmosphere at a centration of about 0.04% by volume.
Carbon dioxide is an inert gas and it does not easily undergo chemical reaction. Our body produces carbon dioxide gas and it is removed through respiration.
Carbon dioxide concentration in fresh air varies between 0.031% to 0.039%. Our body can tolerate increased levels of CO2, however over exposure to carbon dioxide can cause Hypercapnia.
Hypercapnia is a condition where there is too much carbon dioxide in the blood.
Carbon dioxide is a gaseous product of the body's metabolism and is expelled through the lungs. Through respiration, our blood with high CO2 content loss the carbon dioxide to the air in our long. When the air has already too much carbon dioxide, the CO2 in our blood does not properly “diffuse” and the blood carbon dioxide concentration remains high.
Hypercapnia normally triggers a reflex which increases breathing, hand flaps, headache, confusion and lethargy.
Always have a functioning CO2 detector in your home and have a trained professional inspect, clean, and tune-up the central heating system annually
2) Nitrogen Dioxide
Nitrogen dioxide is the chemical compound with the formula NO2. It is one of several nitrogen oxides. Nitrogen dioxide is toxic by inhalation. However, the compound is easily detectable by smell at low concentrations. The most prominent sources of NO2 in Home appliances are kerosene heaters and gas heaters. The excess air required for complete combustion of fuels in these processes introduces nitrogen into the combustion reactions at high temperatures and produces nitrogen oxides. The other source of NO2 is the combustion engines, where air and fuel are burned at very high temperature and pressure.
Keep gas appliances properly adjusted. Have a trained professional inspect, clean, and tune up the central heating system (furnaces, flues, and chimneys) annually. Repair any leaks promptly. Do not idle the car inside the garage.