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CO Poisoning Carbon Monoide Poisoning Symptoms:
This document discusses the the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. We give references and explanation regarding Toxicity of Carbon Monoxide, based on literature search and search on Compuserve's Safety Forum.
This is background information, obtained from expert sources. Seek prompt advice from your doctor or health/safety experts if you have any reason to be concerned about exposure to toxic gases. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal but exposure at lower limits can produce flu-like symptoms and headaches that are often mistaken for ordinary illness.
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Links on this page also direct the reader to carbon dioxide gas information in a separate document. Seek prompt advice from your doctor or health/safety experts if you have any reason to be concerned about exposure to toxic gases. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal but exposure at lower limits can produce flu-like symptoms and headaches that are often mistaken for ordinary illness.
Carbon monoxide characteristics
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that, physiologically, is a chemical asphyxiant. When inhaled, it combines with hemoglobin more readily than does oxygen, displacing oxygen from hemoglobin and thereby interfering with oxygen transport by the blood. In other words, breathing carbon monoxide can lead to asphyxiation - unconsciousness and even death.
A person suffering from carbon monoxide (CO) intoxication may have these symptoms:
as the concentration of carboxyhemoglobin in the blood increases.
Other symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning include:
In addition to neurological effects, heart damage has also often been reported in CO or carbon monoxide poisoning cases - see comments below.
IF YOU SUSPECT CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING GO INTO FRESH AIR IMMEDIATELY and get others out of the building, then call your fire department or emergency services for help Carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal.
Safety Suggestions: Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors in addition to Smoke Detectors
Carbon monoxide detectors are inexpensive and readily available, both as a battery-operated unit and as a unit that plugs into an electrical outlet in the home. No home should be without this safety protection, and homes with gas-fired equipment (natural gas or LP propane), space heaters, or other sources of risk should be extra cautious. Smoke detectors do not protect against carbon monoxide poisoning, and the opposite is also true. Carbon monoxide detectors do not warn of smoke or fire.
Chronic exposure to CO Carbon Monoxide - complaints of declining health
I am writing to ask if you can help me. I live in Louisville, am a psychotherapist, and teach family psychiatry at the University of Kentucky.
Thank you for the interesting CO question - it helps us realize where we need to work on making our text more clear or more complete. I was sorry to read of the history of complaints and concerns you described about your water heater.
First - be sure you have working CO detectors in your home.
Second - be sure that the problem you trace to the heater is not the only issue - other gas fired appliances could be at fault
Third, an expert inspection of the equipment, chimneys, vents, flue vent connectors, combustion air supply, etc. could be in order.
A water heater does not produce nearly as much exhaust as, for example, a boiler or furnace.
Regarding your question about quantifying your CO exposure, no, an honest, defensible, accurate characterization of exposure over months of varying building and equipment conditions would be quite difficult. But one could measure under various building conditions to put bounds on the question - identifying the maximum CO production rate and concentrations in a building vs the minium. Given that data and weather, testimony on status of windows and doors open or shut, degree days, equipment operation, fuel consumption, an engineer with the right expertise could make some ballpark calculations on gas levels that could have been present in a building.
You need to review the question with your physician, the complaints, the hypotheses, and obtain an expert medical opinion on the possible relations between complaint and various kinds of exposure before you can know how much cost and trouble detailed assessment is worthy.
Continue reading at MEDICAL EFFECTS of CO or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
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