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Carbon Monoxide (CO) vs. Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

Carbon Monoxide (CO) vs. Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

Sioux Falls, SD – Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) are often mistaken for one another; however, they are quite different.

• Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless toxic gas formed by the incomplete combustion of carbon compounds like gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, kerosene, oil and other heating gases. Automobile internal combustion engines are the largest source of CO.

• Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a colorless, odorless gas with an acrid taste formed by human and animal respiratory cycle as well as combustion. Unsafe levels can build up in normally occupied areas because of poor ventilation. CO2 is used for beverage carbonation and plant growth acceleration.

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

  • Nickname: Silent Killer
  • CO is composed of one carbon atom & one oxygen atom
  • Colorless
  • Odorless
  • Tasteless
  • Does not occur naturally in the atmosphere
  • Result of incomplete combustion from carbon-based compounds (ex. coal, natural gas, propane, oil, wood, etc.)
  • Flammable Gas
  • Common Type of fatal poisoning
  • Hazard: Binds to hemoglobin in the blood and acts as a poison
  • Density: 28.01 kg/m3 (slightly lighter than air – 29 kg/ m3)
  • Symptoms: dizziness, headache, nausea, shortness of breath,
    confusion, blurred vision, loss of consciousness
  • Target Organs: lungs, blood, heart, central nervous system
  • OSHA Standards: Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) 50 PPM
  • NIOSH Standards: Recommend Exposure Limit (REL) 35 PPM

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

  • Nickame: N/A
  • CO2 is composed of one carbon atom & two oxygen atoms
  • Colorless
  • Odorless
  • Acrid Taste
  • Occurs naturally in the atmosphere at about 400 PPM
  • Formed by human and animal respiratory cycle as well as combustion
  • Non-flammable gas
  • Poisoning is rare
  • Hazard: Displaces oxygen in the room causing asphyxiation
  • Density: 44.01 kg/m3 (heavier than air)
  • Symptoms: increased heart rate, frostbite, panic, convulsion,
    impaired consciousness
  • Target Organs: respiratory system, cardiovascular system
  • OSHA Standards: PEL 5,000 PPM
  • NIOSH Standards: REL 5,000 PPM

Applications where both gases could be present

Parking Garages – Vehicle Repair Facility – Automobile Exhaust – Food Processing – Chemical Plants – Food & Beverage – Office Buildings – Bus Depots – Schools – Restaurants – Retail – Maintenance Facility – Grow Facilities – Manufacturing Plants – Confined Spaces – Wastewater Treatment – Pharmaceuticals – Fast Food Establishments

About Macurco Gas Detection

Macurco Inc. designs, develops, and manufactures a complete set of fixed and portable gas detection monitors to protect workers, responders, and the community. Macurco has over 50 years of proven gas detection experience in residential, commercial, and industrial gas monitoring. Macurco gas detection systems (HVAC, Fire & Security, AimSafety, and TracXP) are widely recognized by distributors and users for their high performance and consistent reliability.

Macurco is based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Learn more at

For more information about Macurco products, applications, or gases, please get in touch with Macurco at 877-367-7891 or email us at [email protected].

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