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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Carbon Monoxide the Silent Killer

With the cold weather hitting this winter we are all running to turn the furnace on. Before you do make sure your furnace has been checked by a professional. The dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) are greater in the winter when you have the furnace on all the time. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death.

Also be aware of gas powered stoves, ovens and water heaters. If they are not properly ventilated, they too can release harmful amounts of CO into your home. CO is a toxic gas that enters the bloodstream and replaces the oxygen molecules found in the critical blood component hemoglobin, depriving the heart and brain of the oxygen necessary to function.

Symptoms are often related to flu-like symptoms including nausea, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, confusion and breathing difficulty. Because CO poisoning often causes a victim’s blood pressure to rise, the victim’s skin may take on a pink or red cast.

Most CO detectors will sound at 1,000 parts per million (ppm), for the safety of you and your family you will want to invest in a detector that will sound at, at least 400 ppm. Below is a list of concentrations and Symptoms

35 ppm (0.0035%) Headache and dizziness within six to eight hours of constant exposure

100 ppm (0.01%) Slight headache in two to three hours

200 ppm (0.02%) Slight headache within two to three hours; loss of judgment

400 ppm (0.04%) Frontal headache within one to two hours

800 ppm (0.08%) Dizziness, nausea, and convulsions within 45 min; insensible within 2 hours

1,600 ppm (0.16%) Headache, tachycardia, dizziness, and nausea within 20 min; death in less than 2 hours

3,200 ppm (0.32%) Headache, dizziness and nausea in five to ten minutes. Death within 30 minutes. 6,400 ppm (0.64%) Headache and dizziness in one to two minutes. Convulsions, respiratory arrest, and death in less than 20 minutes.

12,800 ppm (1.28%) Unconsciousness after 2-3 breaths. Death in less than three minutes.

(chart taken from Wikipedia)

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