A guide to carbon monoxide...

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.

carbon monoxide is dangerous

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 life-sustaining oxygen.

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.

Your comments about carbon monoxide poisoning...

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survivor bill pls read
sarah from thunderbay
1st of all I am glad you have bounced back to almost 100percent. im on the 2nd anniversary since m mom inhaled charcoal in an enclosed space for 36 hrs , give or take. shes a mess and im frustrated and heartbroken and angry. please let me know what you did and how you managed to regain cognitive ability . how did u get back to normal. I hit something and cant get question marks or the at symbal, sorry-my email is sholmwo1(at symbol here ) confederation.on.ca please if anyone can offer me advice on how to help my mom come back to us!! I need to help her. thankyou.

Am I being exposed?
Jillian from UK
I work right next to a large multi-level car park where thousands of cars come and go. I regularly smell vehicle exhaust from work. So far I seem to be ok but I do feel tired quite often. Maybe it's due to getting older or should I be concerned?

No shyt, CO is dangerous
Brianiac
Does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that this stuff is freaken brutal if you breathe it.

Bill
As a survivor I appreciate that this site is clearly written in plain English (and not medical or scientific jargon). It has helped me understand much about my own poisoning experience.

It took me 8 years to recovery to the point where I could function again. Now 12 years later I am almost 100% but it took a lot to get there.

This site would have been amazingly helpful if it had been around when I was poisoned.

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