Carbon monoxide – Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless and odorless gas and is produced mainly by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels such as petrol, diesel, kerosene, and coal. It is also produced by the incomplete combustion of wood. The amount of carbon monoxide in the exhaust fumes of some of the inefficient motor engines maybe 5.5 to 10 percent which is very high.
How carbon monoxide harmful for health – Carbon monoxide is a highly toxic or poisonous gas and very harmful for health. The hemoglobin present in our blood carries oxygen to all the parts of our body. If we breathe in the air polluted with carbon monoxide then this carbon monoxide readily combines with the hemoglobin present in our blood and forms a stable compound called ‘’carboxy hemoglobin’’ (COHb). Due to the formation of this compound, hemoglobin is unable to carry oxygen to our body parts. Thus, the blood becomes deficient in oxygen. The deficiency of oxygen in blood caused by carbon monoxide produces dizziness, headache, cardiac, and pulmonary complications, and even death.
How carbon monoxide causes oxygen deficiency in the blood – When oxygen combines with the hemoglobin of blood, it forms a compound called oxyhemoglobin. But when carbon monoxide combines with the hemoglobin of blood, it forms a compound known as carboxy-hemoglobin. The affinity of carbon monoxide for the hemoglobin of blood is about 200 times more than the affinity of oxygen for hemoglobin, therefore, even a very small amount of carbon monoxide in the body is sufficient to form carboxy-hemoglobin. The formation of even a small quantity of carboxy-hemoglobin adversely affects the oxygen-carrying capacity of hemoglobin due to which the blood becomes deficient in blood.
How charcoal or gas stoves are harmful to health – We should not use charcoal stoves or gas stoves in closed rooms because it can lead to carboxy monoxide poisoning. When charcoal and gas burn in an insufficient supply of air due to closed room then incomplete combustion of these fuels takes place, which produces a large amount of carbon monoxide. The carbon monoxide formed mixes with the air and is inhaled by the persons present in the closed room. Being extremely toxic, this carbon monoxide produces poisoning in the persons present in the closed room and can prove fatal. In fact, many people die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning when they sleep in closed rooms in the winter season with a charcoal fire burning inside the room. The poisonous effect of carbon monoxide also kills many miners working in coal mines.