Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Alternate Names : CO Poisoning
Carbon monoxide, also called CO, is a poisonous gas. It has no odor, no taste, and no color . Carbon
monoxide poisoning is a life-threatening condition caused by inhaling too much CO.
What is going on in the body?
CO is produced when a fuel is burned. Fuels include gas, oil, kerosene, charcoal, or wood.
CO may be found in a number of items that people come in contact with each day. These include:
leaking exhaust systems from internal-combustion engines or motor-powered vehicles
faulty gas stoves or heating systems without good ventilation
or breathing in secondhand smoke
If fresh air is limited and CO is released in the air, it can reach a dangerously
high level. When CO is inhaled, it enters the bloodstream and attaches to a blood cell protein called
hemoglobin. Hemoglobin helps blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. If CO
attaches to hemoglobin, the blood cells can't carry oxygen. The body then can't function in a healthy
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
CO poisoning can occur when small amounts of CO are inhaled over a long time. It can also
occur when large amounts of CO are absorbed over a short time, especially in a closed setting such as a
garage or car.