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Carbon Monoxide Dispersion in Residential Buildings: Literature Review and Technical Analysis.



Andrew K. Persily


Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are being used increasingly in residential buildings to warn occupants about CO concentrations that could potentially cause acute health effects. While the use of CO detectors can decrease the likelihood of exposure to such CO levels, questions exist concerning the installation of these devices in residential buildings, primarily with regards to the location and number of detectors. Efforts to develop installation guidance and standards have been faced with these question of location, and the availability of technical information to support the development of installation recommendations has been questioned. As the first task of a project to analyze the distribution of CO in residential buildings as it relates to the installation of CO detectors, a literature review and technical analysis was conducted to assess information on CO dispersion in residential buildings that could support the development of guidance on detector installation. The review covered a number of issues including CO concentration measurements in residential buildings, sources of indoor CO, mixing within and between rooms, tracer gas techniques for assessing building airflow, and computer models of air movement and contaminant dispersal in buildings. The material obtained in the literature review is discussed, and a technical analysis of the issues related to CO dispersion in residential buildings is presented.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 5906
Report Number


carbon monoxide, exposure, indoor air quality, literature reviews, residential buildings, ventilation, occupants


Persily, A. (1996), Carbon Monoxide Dispersion in Residential Buildings: Literature Review and Technical Analysis., NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 18, 2024)


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Created October 1, 1996, Updated November 10, 2018