The use of charcoal burners, charcoal barbecues or charcoal grills for cooking and heating.
When charcoal is burned it gives off a poisonous gas called carbon monoxide, which you cannot see, smell or taste. If charcoal is burned indoors, or in an enclosed space, the gas cannot escape and it builds up in the air that you are breathing. Carbon monoxide can make you unwell very quickly and large amounts can overcome you in minutes without warning, causing you to lose consciousness and suffocate.
No - carbon monoxide gas is always produced when charcoal is burned.
Yes - carbon monoxide gas can be given off from other appliances in your home, and from wood and coal fires, so it is important to:
Low levels of carbon monoxide can cause you to feel sick, lead to shortness of breath and mild headaches.
At moderate levels, you or your family might experience some or all of the following symptoms:
People suffering from heart or chest problems, babies and small children, unborn children, expectant mothers and pets may be affected by carbon monoxide poisoning more quickly than others, and may be the first to show symptoms.
We provide advice on the way that chemicals and poisons can affect or threaten health. This might include specific incidents like chemical fires, chemical contamination of the environment, or accidents in the home or at work. We are also researching the effect of long-term exposure to chemicals and poisons on the body and the possible link with illness.
If you have concerns about your health contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or visit the website http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk, or see your family doctor.
Last reviewed: 7 August 2013