Handheld Carbon Monoxide Detector

A handheld carbon monoxide detector is an important safety device to have on hand in your home, car or work space. Its main purpose is to detect dangerous levels of CO gas in an enclosed area and alarm the occupants. Some models also display the concentration of carbon monoxide in parts per million (ppm) on a digital screen.

Known as the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide is a colorless, tasteless, odorless gas produced by the incomplete burning of fuel. It is released from furnaces, wood stoves, fireplaces, gasoline, propane, oil or other fossil fuels. If levels of carbon monoxide build up to unsafe levels in a confined space, they can poison people and animals. Thousands of emergency room visits and hundreds of fatal exposures occur each year in the United States.

On-the-Go Safety: Handheld Carbon Monoxide Detectors for Quick Detection

Most models of carbon monoxide detectors use electrochemical sensors containing a carbon monoxide reducing substance in an insulated cup with two electrodes and connection wires. Carbon monoxide enters the sensor and reduces its resistance, which triggers a circuit to send an alert signal to the alarm unit. This type of detector typically has the lowest cost but requires regular maintenance because it can have a short lifespan.

Some models of handheld carbon monoxide detector use a biomimetic sensor technology that reproduces CO’s effects on hemoglobin in the blood. A gel within the sensor changes color when exposed to carbon monoxide, which is sensed by a separate sensor that activates the alarm. These detectors can have longer lifespans than an electrochemical sensor but they require frequent calibration because the gel will change color over time.

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