Carbon monoxide is one of the most serious air pollutants. It is highly poisonous to humans because of its ability to block the delivery of oxygen to organs and tissues. Carbon monoxide poisoning mostly occurs in winters, when we use coal, wood, and other carbon-based fuel to produce heat in our homes. So in this article, we will learn what is carbon monoxide and why it is poisonous?
What is Carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless and odorless gas. Automobile exhausts and cigarettes are the major sources of CO production. Other sources such as incomplete burning of coal, petrol, firewood, etc. also produce carbon monoxide.
What is Carbon monoxide poisoning?
Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when we breathe an excessive amount of carbon monoxide into our lungs. In the lungs, it mixes with our blood. When too much carbon monoxide gets mixed up with blood, it starts replacing the oxygen present in our red blood cells. This can cause serious damage to our brain, heart and can even cause death.
Why Carbon monoxide is poisonous?
Human blood contains haemoglobin in red blood cells. Haemoglobin is an iron-containing protein that gives a characteristic red colour to our blood cells. Iron in haemoglobin binds to oxygen and then carries it around in our bloodstream.
But, when the concentration of carbon monoxide builds up in our blood, it binds to haemoglobin to form carboxyhemoglobin. It does so by binding to iron atoms in haemoglobin. Carboxyhemoglobin is about 300 times more stable than the oxygen-haemoglobin complex. That means once carbon monoxide attaches, it is difficult to release.
In our blood, when the concentration of carboxyhemoglobin reaches about 3-4%, the oxygen-transporting capacity of blood is greatly reduced. This oxygen deficiency in our blood can cause headaches, dizziness, nervousness, and vomiting.
Moreover, large exposure to carbon monoxide can cause loss of consciousness, seizures, cardiovascular disorder, or death. In pregnant women, CO poisoning can induce premature birth.
So, now you know What is Carbon monoxide? And, Why carbon monoxide is poisonous? So that is all for now, meet you in my next article. Keep Reading, Keep Exploring, and Keep Sharing your Knowledge, and above all BE CURIOUS. 🙂
- Carbon monoxide poisoning – Wikipedia. (2021). Retrieved 28 August 2021, from https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_monoxide_poisoning