Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

When wood, petrol, or natural gas are burned completely water and carbon dioxide are created. However, when they are only partially burnt carbon monoxide is made. Carbon monoxide is tasteless and odourless, but other gases released at the same time may give indicators that there is a problem.

How Does Poisoning Work?
Sources of Poisoning
Protecting Your Family
What to Do If Poisoning Has Occured

How Does Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Work?

The body functions like a city different workers doing different jobs to ensure that everything operates correctly. In the body one of the most important workers is OXYGEN. Oxygen is needed by every cell in the body to function correctly.

When you breathe in, oxygen arrives at the lungs ready for work and is taken to the cells by HEMOGLOBIN, which can be thought of as a bus. When hemoglobin reaches the cell it drops off the oxygen and picks up CARBON DIOXIDE (oxygen at the end of the working day). Carbon dioxide is dropped off at the lungs and is breathed out, while hemoglobin picks up some more oxygen and takes it to some cells to start work. This continues 24 hours a day.

When someone breathes in CARBON MONOXIDE there is a big change. Carbon monoxide is like a bully. He pushes oxygen off his seat on the bus, and will not get off he is here for the joy ride. Because oxygen cannot get onto the bus, the cells do not get any oxygen and so cannot continue to work properly. The more carbon monoxide that is riding the hemoglobin bus the less effectively the cells can work, and they may start to die.

How Could I Be Poisoned By Carbon Monoxide?

Sources of carbon monoxide can include:
How Can I Protect My Family From Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Signs that there may be a problem:
How to minimize risk from carbon monoxide poisoning:
Carbon monoxide monitors can check for the presence of carbon monoxide above a preset level. They should always be treated as an additional safety measure rather than as a substitute for monitoring of appliances.

What Should I Do if I Think Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Has Occurred?

Symptoms that people develop when they are exposed to carbon monoxide:
What to do if someone has poisoning, a problem is seen, or the carbon monoxide alarm sounds:
Even if the person feels better, they are still at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms may develop, or worsen over the next few days.

Related Resources
Prevent Poisoning: Keeping Children Safe From Poisons - A brochure on general poisoning prevention information including home safety tips
Put Your Kid's Safety First - A brochure detailing the risk of dishwasher detergents and simple safety tips for their use
Working with Chemicals, Confined Spaces and Respirators - A booklet on the risk of using of farming-related chemicals within confined spaces