Carbon Monoxide – The Silent Killer That Most People Are Unaware Of

Carbon Monoxide – The Silent Killer That Most People Are Unaware Of

One of the most common pollutants that is present inside almost every household is Carbon Monoxide (CO), which is also known as the “Silent Killer”. The gas gets its name from the fact that it neither has any color, nor any odor and taste. This makes the gas extremely difficult to detect and is a major reason behind claiming countless lives each year. Even if an individual survives the CO poisoning, it can have long lasting psychological and neurological effects that can leave the victims traumatized. The best way to avoid facing any such complications is for the individuals to become aware of the risks posed by exposure to this gas and the ways of preventing the same.

How Carbon Monoxide Is Produced

Before gaining information about the health hazards of Carbon Monoxide, it is important to know how it is produced. This poisonous gas is a byproduct that is released when any carbon based fuel such as wood, oil, coal, charcoal, natural gas and propane, does not burn completely. Homeowners run the greatest risk of exposure to this dangerous gas as it can be released from sources such as gas-powered furnaces, water heaters, clogged chimneys and burning of any carbon based fuels indoors.

In addition, people who regularly operate a vehicle can also suffer from the effects of exposure to Carbon Monoxide fumes that are released whenever they start their vehicles. Even travelers staying at hotels run the risk of CO poisoning as it is leaked from faulty heaters and boilers. In general, children up to the age of 14 years are more likely to sustain the affects of CO poisoning as compared to the adults.

carbon monoxide

Health Effects Of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide proves extremely dangerous when inhaled, as it becomes attached to the oxygen carrying molecules present in the blood. This deprives the body of vital oxygen and causes suffocation which not only leads to tissue damage but also affects the vital organs such as the heart and the brain. Extensive CO poisoning can lead to instant health issues and even death and when the exposure is carried over a long period in low quantities it can lead to long-term health issues such as frequent headaches, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea and mental fatigue. It can also lead to loss of hearing, blurring of vision, disorientation and significant reduction in life expectancy.

Preventing CO Poisoning

However, all these health issues cannot only be prevented but even reversed by taking the proper preventive measures to avoid exposure and poisoning by Carbon Monoxide. Discussed below are some effective ways in which individuals can prevent poisoning by exposure to CO, the Silent Killer.

  1. Homeowners should make sure that they properly adjust all the combustion appliances in their home as soon as the time for their use comes near. They should get all fuel-burning appliances inspected by well trained professionals to check for any damages and leaks.
  1. Many people have the habit of running their engine in idle state inside their garages. This can prove extremely harmful as the fumes build up quickly even with such action and do not dissipate easily even with the garage door open. Moreover, these fumes can rapidly penetrate into the main house risking the lives of other family members.
  1. Charcoal grilles form an integral part of the barbeque parties and most often people set up these grilles either inside their homes or in their garages. This can lead to the creation of Carbon Monoxide fumes in large quantities, especially if the grille is set up in the fireplace. It is advisable to set these devices in an open area where the fumes can easily disperse into the air.



  1. One of the greatest causes of CO poisoning is individuals sleeping in rooms that use gas or kerosene heater without having a proper ventilation facility. In fact, many people are unaware of the early symptoms of CO poisoning because they are deep in sleep until it is too late. That is why it is believed that the risk of poisoning is the greatest when people are sleeping.
  1. For people living in homes having old fireplaces which have neither been used nor repaired for several years, it is important to get them sealed at the earliest. This is because the discarded fireplaces are often a major source of Carbon Monoxide and hence can lead to poisoning quite easily. In case these fireplaces cannot be sealed, they should be repaired to minimize leakage.
  1. Most importantly, it is vital for homeowners to install a good quality CO detector that will warn them to the rising levels of Carbon Monoxide within their homes. However, it is important to understand that CO detectors can neither prevent the production of this poisonous gas nor avoid the homeowners from being exposed to the same. These devices can only act as a backup to alert the homeowners to the risk and take the necessary preventive measures.

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