What makes carbon monoxide dangerous?
What makes carbon monoxide dangerous? For starters, if a person or animal breathes air with an
unsafe level of carbon monoxide then levels can rise very quickly in their blood. This depletes blood of its
ability to carry oxygen which begins to suffocate the victim.
A second reason that makes carbon monoxide dangerous is that it impacts the body in many more subtle and complex
ways than oxygen deprivation alone.
Carbon monoxide can travel in blood plasma and cause cell damage without ever binding to the hemoglobin or
showing up in a blood test. This "free" carbon monoxide in the bloodstream can trigger cell death of the lining of
the heart and blood vessels, potentially leading to atherosclerotic heart disease. The same process also appears to
kill brain cells responsible for memory and learning.
A third reason that makes carbon monoxide dangerous is that there are so many carbon monoxide sources in the modern world. There are a large number of
"opportunties" to be exposed to carbon monoxide.
A fourth reason that makes carbon monoxide dangerous is that it is odorless, colorless, tasteless, non
irritating to the lungs and respiratory system, and its effects are mostly painless*. A person usually does not
have any way of knowing that it is in the air they are breathing.
The combination of there being a huge number of sources, not knowing it is being breathed, and being extremely
toxic makes carbon monoxide dangerous and a silent deadly theat.
This adds up and makes carbon monoxide dangerous and one of the most deadly toxins on the planet. Carbon
monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths and poisoning related injury worldwide.
Why carbon monoxide is dangerous
Once inhaled, it is easily absorbed through the lungs. Hemoglobin carries oxygen through the blood to the entire
body. Carbon monoxide binds tightly with hemoglobin and displaces the oxygen. Cells in the brain and body become starved for
At high levels carbon monoxide can overcome a person in minutes without warning. This can cause collapse, loss
of consciousness, suffocation and death. This makes carbon monoxide dangerous because it can easily occur without a
person realizing it is happening [to them].
The existence of this toxic molecule in the bloodstream causes potentially catastrophic consequences to cells
within the body. The brain, nervous system, and heart are most sensitive to oxygen deprivation.
The symptoms of carbon monoxide
poisoning may be minor but can also be extremely serious. It can cause short term symptoms and effects and long term effects caused by cellular damage.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can damage the brain,
endocrine system, nervous system, heart, and organs resulting in subtle and not-so-subtle changes
to the life of a survivor.
Poisoning can affect personality, behavior, thinking, health, relationships, work, life functioning, and the
finances of a survivor.
Medical doctors, biochemists and toxicologists readily recognize that carbon monoxide is dangerous while
unsafe levels are in the body/bloodstream. However, as a
rule, they have limited
understanding of the true impact, subtleties and long term effects of serious poisoning.
* often a person will get a carbon monoxide headache or nausea but it depends on the levels in the
air, the length of time breathed, and other risk factors.
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