Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: All You Need To Know

Two cases of recent deaths were attributed to carbon monoxide leakages from gas appliances

In the last two weeks, nine Indians lost their lives due to carbon monoxide emissions while using different gas appliances. A group of eight tourists from Kerala lost their lives in a hotel in Kathmandu, Nepal after switching on their room's gas heater in an unventilated space. A 15-year-old girl was found unconscious due to carbon monoxide leaked from her gas water geyser in her bathroom in Mumbai. She was on ventilator support for three days after which she passed away.

These incidents raise the need to understand the functioning of gas appliances. It is also important to comprehend the effect of carbon monoxide, a by-product of fuel burning, on human beings.

In the first incident, temperatures in Nepal fell to 2 degrees leading to which two families chose to stay in the same room and asked for an extra heater, as NewsMinute reported. The doors and windows of the rooms were shut and the room had no other source of ventilation.

In the case of the 15-year old, doctors stated that the gas geyser in her bathroom emitted carbon monoxide which led to a reduction of oxygen in the room owing to which she faced convulsions and lost consciousness.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a colourless,odourless, and tasteless gas which is emitted on burning coal, fuel, gasoline, charcoal or other fuels. In unventilated spaces with appliances burning fuel, there is a possibility of carbon monoxide getting accumulated to dangerous levels.

Carbon monoxide is known to replace oxygen levels in the atmosphere as well as the bloodstream.

BOOM contacted Dr. Jai Mullerpattan, pulmonologist at Hinduja hospital, Mumbai to understand the effect of carbon monoxide on the body.

"Carbon monoxide has a very high affinity to haemoglobin. It displaces the oxygen in the bloodstream and binds to the haemoglobin," Dr Mullerpattan stated.

Dr. Mullerpattan further continued that this displacement of oxygen leads the blood's oxygen carrying capacity to reduce and the body's oxygen levels to simultaneously fall.

"All the vital organs require an adequate level of oxygen which when not met with lead to medical emergencies which can lead to death," Dr. Mullerpattan concluded.

How do you prevent Carbon Monoxide poisoning?

On an individual level, Dr. Mullerpattan believes using these gas appliances in proper ventilated areas is the best way forward for continuous use of gas appliances.

Ventilation is important for the fumes of the fuel to disintegrate so that it does not affect the oxygen levels in the atmosphere as well as the body.

The other alternative that Dr. Mullerpatan suggested was to use electrical appliances instead of gas appliances. Electrical heaters and geysers work on the principle of heating energy without using fuel.

Both electrical and gas geysers and heaters, each have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Gas appliances

- More energy efficient

- Less expensive

- Heat faster

- Require space for LPG

- Not safety compliant

- Require ventilation

Electrical appliances

- Use more energy

- More expensive

- Heat slower

- Easier to install

- Safer to use

- Do not require ventilation

Even though gas appliances are considered to be more energy efficient, electrical appliances are safer to use.

Updated On: 2020-01-23T16:01:00+05:30
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