Carbon Monoxide – The Silent Killer
Carbon monoxide is a common air pollutant. It is colourless and odourless, hence is difficult to detect its presence.
This gas is a silent killer. It is highly poisonous gas.
Why is carbon monoxide a silent killer?
Haemoglobin is a red compound in our blood. It absorbs oxygen from our lungs to form oxyhaemoglobin, which carries the oxygen through our body.
Oxygen is released where it is needed.
If carbon monoxide is present in our body, haemoglobin reacts more readily with carbon monoxide to form carboxyhaemoglobin.
Carbon monoxide reduces the ability of the haemoglobin to transport oxygen to the rest of the body. Our body will be deprived of the essential gas.
High concentration leads to headaches, fatigues, breathing difficulties and death.
Sources of carbon monoxide
Carbon monoxide exists naturally in the air, from the result of forest fires.
However, large portion of it comes from incomplete combustion of carbon containing substances (charcoal, wood, petrol).
Incomplete combustion is a result of insufficient oxygen available for burning.
Treatment of carbon monoxide
Ensure combustion in fuels is complete by fitting motor vehicles with catalytic converter which converts carbon monoxide into harmless carbon dioxide.