Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, yet poisonous gas, resulting from incomplete fuel combustion. Anything that burns fossilpicture of smoke stack fuels, such as wood, gasoline or diesel, produces this gas. Motor vehicle emissions account for approximately 80% of the carbon monoxide emissions in Maricopa County.

Carbon Monoxide levels in Maricopa County are higher in the wintertime due to temperature inversions and the Valley's topography. Air usually becomes cooler as one moves higher in the atmosphere. A temperature inversion occurs when a layer of cooler air is 'trapped' underneath a layer of warmer air. An inversion keeps pollutants from vehicles, fireplaces, and other sources close to the ground, thus increasing the chances for carbon monoxide and particulates to reach unhealthy levels.

Through regional efforts, levels of carbon monoxide in the Valley have been below the health based standards for since 1997.


Health Effects from Carbon Monoxide


Carbon monoxide enters the bloodstream and reduces oxygen delivery to the body's organs and tissues.  The health threat from exposure to carbon monoxide is most serious for those who suffer from cardiovascular disease and/or anemia.  Healthy individuals are also affected, but only at higher levels of exposure. 

Things that you can do to reduce Carbon Monoxide include:

  • Reduce your amount of driving; particularly in the wintertime.
  • Keep your vehicle engine tuned.
  • Replace gasoline lawn mowers and other lawn equipment with electric lawn equipment.
  • Use hand tools for lawn and garden maintenance.
  • Do not use your wood burning fire place on Maricopa County Air Pollution Advisory days.