Carbon Monoxide Programming

Thomas H. Greiner, extension agricultural engineer


Carbon monoxide (CO) is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in the United States, accounting for 3,500 deaths and 5,000 injuries annually, with a societal cost of over $1 billion. During a 10-year period 203 Iowans died from CO inhalation. Responders lack adequate equipment or training to diagnose, correct and treat the problem.


  • Verified carbon monoxide problems in Iowa dwellings by on-site visits, including investigations for individuals, the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), and the Spirit Lake Police Department.
  • Furnished support data and reviewed documents for IDPH for proposed regulation and legislation.
  • Presented CO material at three national/regional meetings and two state meetings for utility companies, medical personnel, hygienists, heating contractors, and weatherization technicians. One meeting presentation received front-page coverage in a nationally distributed magazine for heating contractors.
  • Organized speakers, prepared the agenda, chaired, and presented CO material for a CO session at a national meeting in Milwaukee.
  • Displayed CO presentations at three safety fairs.
  • Received local and national media coverage warning persons of the dangers of CO and advising them on methods to reduce and eliminate CO exposure.


  • IDPH has drafted CO alarm legislation.
  • IDPH introduced requirements for reporting of CO incidents by medical personnel.
  • Iowa State University Extension is a leader in the efforts to reduce CO poisonings and injuries.


  • An estimated 20 percent of households have at least one CO alarm.
  • Iowa State University Extension is a recognized leader in CO programming.
  • Fewer persons are dying or being injured by exposure to carbon monoxide because of the work of Iowa State University.