Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Carbon Monoxide Exposure Analyses in Support of Emission Rate Limits for Portable Generators



Andrew K. Persily, Steven J. Emmerich, Brian J. Polidoro


The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and others are concerned about the hazard of acute residential carbon monoxide (CO) exposures from portable gasoline-powered generators, which can result in death or serious adverse health effects in exposed individuals. As of April 23, 2013, the CPSC databases contain records of at least 739 deaths (involving 552 incidents) from CO poisoning caused by consumer use of a generator in the period of 1999 through 2012 (Hnatov 2013). There were an additional 61 CO poisoning deaths (involving 45 incidents) associated with consumer use of both a generator and at least one other CO-producing consumer appliance, for a total of 800 CO poisoning deaths (involving 597 incidents) associated with generators for the same 14-year period. Typically, these deaths occur when consumers use a generator in an enclosed or partially enclosed space or outdoors near a partially open door, window or vent. While avoiding the operation of such generators in or near a home is expected to reduce indoor CO exposures significantly, it may not be realistic to expect such usage to be eliminated completely.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 1846
Report Number


carbon monoxide, exposure, portable generators, residential, simulation


Persily, A. , Emmerich, S. and Polidoro, B. (2014), Carbon Monoxide Exposure Analyses in Support of Emission Rate Limits for Portable Generators, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed May 20, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created October 20, 2014, Updated February 19, 2017