You don’t see it, you don’t hear it, but it’s there and it’s deadly. Many everyday objects around us can generate toxic fumes that kill.
A common killer is carbon monoxide, which can come from
Carbon monoxide poisoning is deadly because it is a gas that combines with hemoglobin in our red blood cells. Hemoglobin is the protein that carries oxygen to every cell in our body to keep us alive. Oxygen binds reversibly to hemoglobin and unbinds from it when it reaches the cell.
A chemical reaction between carbon monoxide and hemoglobin creates a new compound called carboxyhemoglobin. This means fewer hemoglobin molecules that are free to bind with oxygen and carry it. This ultimately leads to oxygen shortage in many parts of the body.
The lack of oxygen in many parts of the body due to carbon monoxide inhalation can cause
If immediate first aid is not provided, carbon monoxide poisoning can result in death due to insufficient oxygen reaching the brain and other vital organs.
Here’s what you can do if someone around you is showing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning:
Ways to prevent carbon monoxide inhalation
Other gases to watch out for
Smoke contains other chemicals such as hydrogen chloride, sulphur dioxide and ammonia which can cause swelling and damage to the windpipe, breathing passages and lungs. The best way to deal with this is to simply take the person away from the source of smoke and let them breathe fresh air. Follow the same steps described above in first aid for carbon monoxide poisoning.
Article reviewed by Dr Kenneth Koh Eu Min, Medical Director and Co-founder, OneCare Medical