Two people were found dead Wednesday evening in the Northwest suburban Glendale Heights community, likely due to carbon monoxide poisoning. The victims were James and Kathryn McMahon, according to the Chicago Sun Times.

Officers and paramedics found the two dead at about 7:15 p.m. in their home in the 0 to 100 block of Blue Ridge in Glendale Heights, according to police.

The source of the carbon monoxide poisoning was not immediately clear, but Glendale Heights Police are still investigating as well as The DuPage County Coroner’s office.

Carbon monoxide is produced from fuel burning appliances such as vehicles, stoves, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces, among others. The gas can build up indoors in enclosed spaces like a home or garage, and can ultimately be deadly.

People who are sleeping can die from carbon monoxide poisoning before they realize they are sick.

Every year more than 400 people die from non-fire related carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the CDC. More than 20,000 visit the emergency room due to carbon monoxide, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized.

To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, install a carbon monoxide detector. Change the batteries every six months. Replace the detector every five years. Consider purchasing a carbon monoxide detector with a digital readout, which will tell you what the highest level of carbon monoxide in the home is. Have your fuel burning appliances serviced by a quality technician every year.

Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, which is why some people call it the “silent killer.”

The way in which it kills you has to do with the protein found in red blood cells called hemoglobin. Carbon monoxide binds to hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to the body, with 210 times greater affinity than oxygen, according to one study. A small environmental concentration can cause poisoning. Carbon monoxide also has a high affinity for myoglobin, an iron and oxygen binding protein in muscle tissues. Binding to myoglobin causes myocardial depression, low blood pressure, and arrhythmias. Cardiac decompensation, or a sudden worsening in symptoms associated with heart failure, results in further tissue hypoxia (lack of oxygen) and is ultimately the cause of death.

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