Saturday, May 25, 2013
The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 500 people a year - including about 30 kids - die of carbon monoxide poisoning, and even more are sickened. This odorless, colorless gas is given off when gas, oil, kerosene or wood are burned, and it's the most common poison in our environment. Many people think of winter when they think of carbon monoxide - natural gas heating systems may malfunction, fireplaces may not be vented properly or letting a car warm up in the garage - are all culprits. But carbon monoxide poisoning can happen anytime. In the summer, danger zones include being around boats, which give off fumes as they idle, or around gas grills that don't have proper ventilation. Landscaping equipment, such as lawn mowers and leaf blowers, can give off the gas as well. The gas binds to red blood cells, where it replaces oxygen and doesn't allow it to reach the rest of the body. Symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness - similar symptoms as heat exhaustion or food poisoning. Babies, pregnant women and children with respiratory issues such as asthma, are particularly susceptible.