Monday, May 2, 2011

Why some gases are Deadly Dangerous-CO

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Also published on GD's website
The last post asked what we'd do if we had to make a choice between the environment and some of our life giving activities. It is a tough choice to make. At a certain point in time will we have to make that choice? Not if we modify our activities to benefit both - us and the environment.

To be able to do that we first need to understand what exactly human activities have been responsible for. To date what we've done is, taken a resource from the earth, used it to make whatever's useful and ended the process there. We haven’t had to think about what by-product we’ve created.

All too often this has been a pollutant that poisons our air, waters and soil and damages our health.

1. This article tells us why certain gases like carbon monoxide are deadly dangerous for our health. It helps us understand why these gases shouldn’t be the end product of our activities.


How do human activities like burning coal emit carbon monoxide?
Ideally, burning coal should give carbon dioxide and water.
If you have a camp fire in the open air, there will always be enough oxygen to make the fuel burn completely, so you don’t have to worry about carbon monoxide. But, if you share the oxygen you breathe with too many appliances and people – for example, in an enclosed, crowded place, there isn’t enough to go around.
That is when coal or wood burns inefficiently; there is partial oxidation and instead of carbon dioxide or CO2, Carbon monoxide or CO is one of the end products.
CO is also naturally produced in volcanoes and forest fires.

Who is at risk? 

Anyone who works or lives in a very small or enclosed space, sharing it with many others, is exposed to harmful levels of carbon monoxide. People who work in factories, blast furnaces, who are in their vehicles in traffic - like drivers and traffic police, fire fighters and people who use coal and wood burners are at risk. In short, everyone in India is exposed to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

  • When it enters the bloodstream, CO reacts with the haemoglobin in our blood and forms carboxyhaemoglobin. This reduces the ability of haemoglobin to transfer oxygen to various parts of our body.

CO causes
  • headaches, fatigue, dizziness, drowsiness, or nausea.
  • Exposure to elevated carbon monoxide levels can cause impairment of visual perception, manual dexterity and learning ability

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning may occur sooner in those most susceptible - young children, elderly people, unborn babies, people with lung or heart disease, people at high altitudes, or those who already have elevated CO blood levels, such as smokers.


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Some other gases that are harmful to humans. Click on each

Carbon Monoxide  

Carbon Dioxide  

Sulphur Dioxide  

Nitrogen Dioxide  

Acid Rain

Particulate Matter  

Ground Level Ozone and Odours


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