Skip to content

Carbon Monoxide Survey Summary

Background

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and toxic gas that you cannot see or smell. It is toxic to all humans and animals. It is produced whenever something is burned incompletely or when something is burned in a closed-in area. CO can be found in households from sources such as gas appliances, wood burning stoves and fireplaces. The amount produced while using fuel-burning appliances is usually not harmful, but it can become so when appliances are used improperly and/or are not functioning correctly. 

Although CO is the most commonly inhaled poisonous substance and it is a common indoor air pollutant, exposure to its harmful levels IS PREVENTABLE! With a properly located, installed, and functioning CO detector, the ability to detect harmful levels of CO is vastly improved to a point of preventing injury or even death.

Survey Goals

SC EPHT conducted a comprehensive survey utilizing the nationally renowned services of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System otherwise known as BRFSS. 

The goals of this survey were to estimate the percentages of households with a CO detector, their knowledge of CO sources and how their answers would vary across demographics (e.g., gender, race, income level, etc.).

Detecting Reality

In summary, survey results for years 2011 - 2012 revealed that on average, 34.8% of households had a CO detector.  In addition, although it was first perceived that ownership of a CO detector and knowledge of CO sources would not be significantly different (based on a
p-value being ≥ 0.05) across all demographics, the survey results revealed otherwise (p-value
≤ 0.05) for most demographics as depicted below.  Here are some examples:

Do you have a carbon monoxide detector in your home (2011-2012)?*

Demographics

Summary of Results

p-value

Gender

Fewer females reported having a CO detector

0.0003

Race

Fewer African Americans reported having a CO detector

p≤0.0001

Education Level

Those reporting less education were less likely to say they had a CO detector

p≤0.0001

Income

Those reporting less income were less likely to say they had a CO detector

p≤0.0001

SC DHEC Region

The % of respondents who reported have a CO detector were lowest in Regions IV and VI in 2011 and Regions VI and VIII in 2012

p≤0.0001

*For both years surveyed, the percentage of individuals indicating they had a CO detector in their home was significantly different (p-value ≤0.05) across most demographics

Is a gas or wood burning fireplace a source of carbon monoxide (2011)?...Correct answer is "Yes"

Demographics

Summary of Results

p-value

Race

Fewer African Americans and other races responded correctly as compared to Whites

p=0.0005

Hispanic Ethnicity

Fewer Hispanics responded correctly as compared to
non-Hispanics

p≤0.0001

Age

Fewer younger individuals responded correctly

p≤0.0001

Education Level

Those reporting less education were less likely to respond correctly

p≤0.0001

Income

Those reporting less income were less likely to respond correctly

p=0.01

 

Is an electric space heater a source of carbon monoxide (2011)?...Correct answer is "No"

Demographics

Summary of Results

p-value

Gender

Fewer females responded correctly

p≤0.0001

Race

Fewer African Americans and those of other races responded correctly as compared to Whites

p=0.001

Age

Fewer younger individuals responded correctly

p≤0.0001

Education Level

Those reporting less education were less likely to respond correctly

p≤0.0001

Income

Those reporting less income were less likely to respond correctly

p≤0.0001

Putting Results into Action

These results have allowed SC EPHT to provide this summary of the data and information to help with prevention, education, and other outreach efforts to stress the importance of having a CO detector in homes.

Want to Know More?

If you want to obtain a copy of all questions asked and/or the associated survey results, please contact Ms. Harley Davis at (803) 898-3629 in BRFSS or by email (Harley.Davis@dhec.sc.gov).

If you want to know more about CO and its effects, please visit SC EPHT's CO website at http://www.dhec.sc.gov/HomeAndEnvironment/YourHomeEnvironmentalandSafetyConcerns/CarbonMonoxide/CarbonMonoxideData/.