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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Carbon Monoxide Characteristics

We’ve written about Carbon Monoxide Detection before in our blog, and how important it is to have a CO detector as part of your security system.  But we wanted to get a bit more detailed about the symptoms and effects today.

Pictured above is a Carbon Monoxide Detector

As referred to in our last blog by its common name, Carbon Monoxide is the “Silent Killer”.  But it’s certainly not just silent.  It has no odor, taste or other characteristics our senses can detect.

It is produced (is a by-product of) by any fuel-burning device such as a gas stove, space heater or a vehicle as well.  Things you may not think of such as charcoal grills and lawnmowers also produce Carbon Monoxide.

What it boils down to in terms of effects, is that it suppresses the blood’s ability to carry oxygen.  When CO is inhaled, it forms a vehicle that is now unsuited to transport oxygen to vital organs such as the heart and brain. 

This vehicle is called carboxyhemoglobin (COHb)—a combination of the Carbon Monoxide and the oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in the blood.

In terms of the effects, you’ll mostly see charts when you research.  The typically include 3 columns:  CO ppm (parts per million), exposure time (inhalation time), and symptoms.

Very important:  Please do not rely solely on this chart of effects below, it is simply meant to give you an idea of how serious and deadly Carbon Monoxide can be.  Please also refer to resources such as ASHRAE—The American Society for Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers for more complete information.  As referred to in the chart below, OSHA is also a resource.

Many charts that you see when you research simply continue to double the PPM column as depicted below (except for the first row):

PPM Exposure Time Symptoms
35  8 Hours       Maximum allowed by OSHA in the workplace for 8 hours
 200  2-3 Hours   Mild headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness
 400  1-2 Hours  Symptoms intensify.  Life threatening after 3 hours.
 800  45 Min  Dizziness, nausea, convulsions.  Unconscious within 2 hours.  Death within 2 – 3 hours.
 1600  20 minutes  Headache, dizziness and nausea. Death within 1 hour.
 3200  5-10 minutes  Headache, dizziness and nausea. Death within 1 hour.
 6400  1-2 minutes  Headache, dizziness, nausea.
Death within 25-30 minutes.
 12,800  1-3 minutes  Death within 1-3 minutes
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