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CARBON MONOXIDE (CO) AND ITS NEGATIVE EFFECTS

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While growing up, due to the situation of epileptic power supply in our street, most of us always fall back on generator. The economy was not stiff as it is, so fuelling generators with petrol was not a difficult task.

Most problems we had to deal with were never beyond the abilities of an Engineer. However, through these times, there was no awareness of the danger of carbon monoxide (CO) as a deadly poison that is emitted by a generator set.

While going through the internet and news outlets nowadays, you will find out about some persons whose deaths were as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is produced when organic matter like: fuel, gas etc. does not burn fully or incompletely. It is colourless, without taste, without smell and as a gas it cannot be seen. Look at how dangerous it is!

Apart from generator as an emitter of CO poisoning as mentioned earlier, carbon monoxide poisoning could come from methylene chloride, wildfire, car engines, truck engines, tools lawn mowers, industrial activities, appliances like water heaters, space heaters, wood burning stove etc.

That does not call for worry, if they are not done or used in enclosed or partially enclosed place like running the engine of a vehicle in an enclosed garage.

Most people who died of carbon monoxide poisoning are found in enclosed environment, enclosed room or apartment while asleep or intoxicated to state the position of how dangerous.

Just like oxygen, carbon monoxide is a gas and can be found in air. Carbon monoxide poisoning is always an ‘august visitor’, as it can affect anybody, even an unborn baby when a pregnant woman is exposed to it poisoning thus, reducing the amount of oxygen supply to the baby, thereby resulting to perinatal death.

When a person suffers carbon monoxide poisoning, the haemoglobin around the red blood cells in the body system (that is meant to take in oxygen gas from the lungs to tissues all over the parts of the body system and bring carbon dioxide, (CO2) from those tissues which will breathe out), will take in carbon monoxide as oxygen gas competes with carbon monoxide.

Thereafter, the oxygen gas will be defeated by carbon monoxide by reducing amount of oxygen gas intake, thereby resulting to tiredness, difficulty in breathing, dizziness, nausea, unconsciousness, convulsions, muscle cramp, vomiting, muscle arrest,  vision disturbance etc. and in worst case death.

As the carbon monoxide gas (CO), combines with haemoglobin it forms carboxyhaemoglobin (HbCO).

People with health issues like heath disease, lung disease, and respiratory problems are more at risk, when exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning. At times, survivors of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning may likely have long term health problems.

Based on reports, it is observed that cities and urban areas are mostly prone to the risk of carbon monoxide. This will be certified ‘correct’ based on the available numbers of established industries, cars, trucks, machines etc.

If you noticed that you or somebody you are with has suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning, the first available treatment for you or that person is to be distanced from the source of carbon monoxide gas, in order to prevent further damage.

Thereafter, seek for medical care while being placed under 100% oxygen gas delivered through mask, in order to speed up production of oxyhaemoglobin to replace the presence of carboxyhaemoglobin.

Also, hyperbaric oxygen may be administered accordingly. Oxygen as a gas speeds up the separation of carbon monoxide from carboxyhemoglobin, to turn it back into haemoglobin.

To detect whether a person has been exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning, diagnosis is based on checking for the carboxyhaemoglobin (HbCO) level in the body of an affected person.

Recovery from carbon monoxide poisoning will depend on how much the victim has been exposed to it.

Poisoning through carbon monoxide can be avoided and prevented. What could be said to be most prevalent in most cases of carbon monoxide poisoning, is lack of adequate ventilation occurrence in an enclosed place as I mentioned earlier.

However, cases of carbon monoxide poisoning can be prevented by proper and well ventilation of rooms in a way, that there will not be airflow intake blockage.

Using appliances like; water heaters, space heaters, wood burning stove etc. in a well-ventilated environment, installation of carbon monoxide detectors in places where there is risk of being exposed to it poisoning to be alerted quickly. Such detectors need to be kept at close range.

Running engines of car in a well and adequate ventilated garage can also be a way to prevent the inhalation of carbon monoxide; research has it that running a car engine in an enclosed garage, can produce deadly amounts of carbon monoxide within the range of ten minutes.

Products made or that contain methylene chloride should be handled with care. If there is any close range of being exposed the nostrils should be protected from inhaling such.

Governments should provide means of enlightenment through public education sensitising the public on the appropriate usage of household appliances and what to do when sudden exposure to carbon monoxide poisoning occurs.

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