Residential carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning risks: Correlates of observed CO alarm use in urban households

Eileen M. McDonald, Andrea C. Gielen, Wendy C. Shields, Rebecca Stepnitz, Elizabeth Parker, Xia Ma, David Bishai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The authors conducted a household survey and observation to assess carbon monoxide (CO) knowledge and risks as well as prevalence of CO alarms in an urban community prior to the enactment of a mandatory ordinance requiring CO alarms in one U.S. city. From July to December 2009, household surveys and observations were completed in 603 residences. Participants were mostly African-American (61%), women (70%), 25-54 years in age (66%), and with a high school education or less (51%). Most homes visited contained CO-producing appliances, including gas stoves (86%), gas furnaces (82%), and gas water heaters (79%). Participants' overall mean percentage correct knowledge score was 57%. CO alarms were reported by 33% of participants and observed among 28% of households. Low rates of CO knowledge and CO alarm ownership, combined with high rates of CO-producing sources in homes, suggests the need for widespread campaigns to promote CO alarms. Recommendations are also made to integrate the lessons learned from the public health community's experience promoting smoke alarms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-32
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of environmental health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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