Carbon Monoxide lingers in both indoor and outdoor air and comes with a plethora of health risks that can be entirely avoidable with the right precautions.
Sources like exhaust fumes and smoke are often responsible for the emission of this particulate matter. Exposure to high CO levels can trigger flu-like symptoms including headache, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness. Find out what releases carbon monoxide in the atmosphere, how it targets human health, and how face masks can help escape health risks associated with CO.
What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon Monoxide or CO is a toxic, odorless, and colorless gas that emerges in the atmosphere when carbonaceous fuels like charcoal, kerosene, petrol, wood, and natural gas go through incomplete combustion.
The greatest sources of this pollutant include cars, trucks, other automobiles, and machinery that rely on the combustion of fossil fuels. In terms of indoor CO contamination, the factors responsible include leading furnaces and chimneys, unvented gas space heaters and kerosene, and gas stoves.
When inhaled in large quantities, CO can carry severe and even fatal health risks. This is because CO can diffuse across the lung tissues and seep into the bloodstream, ultimately weakening the body cells’ ability to bind oxygen. When there is a lack of oxygen, the body cells and tissues begin to get damaged. As a result, exposure to CO causes the body to suffer from symptoms like exhaustion, breathing difficulties, and excessive dizziness. Prolonged exposure to CO can also prove fatal.
What Are the Health Risks Associated With CO?
Since carbon monoxide stunts the transport of adequate oxygen in the bloodstream, critical organs like the brain and the heart fail to receive enough oxygen to function well. When CO saturation increases in the indoor air, symptoms like confusion, unconsciousness, and dizziness begin to take form. It is possible for an enclosed space to trap high enough concentration of CO that can lead to death.
Outdoor spaces, on the other hand, may not experience very high levels of CO. However, fairly elevated CO levels are still a cause of concern for individuals with underlying heart diseases mainly because heart diseases already slow down the transport of oxygenated blood to the heart. The same group of individuals can become dangerously vulnerable to CO pollution when they’re either exercising or dealing with high stress. Alongside considerably lowering the oxygen supply to the heart, such a situation can often be accompanied by chest pain – a condition also known as angina.
Other health risks associated with CO include higher rates of asthma in kids, increased rates of cardiovascular diseases, bronchiolitis, and cardiac failure, and a higher possibility of heart diseases among the elderly.
How Can A Face Mask Shield You From CO?
Exposure to carbon monoxide and other deadly particulate matter in the atmosphere is often unavoidable. With the ever-escalating CO levels outdoors, the only option to stay fully protected seems to be the consistent usage of face masks.
While there are endless mask options, the masks that have been proven the most efficient include high-filtration reusuable masks like the ones designed by AusAir. The reason is their ability to filter out the smallest of particulate matter (PM) including PM2.5 and PM0.1. Alongside providing protection from CO, masks protect the wearers from pretty much every type of particle or aerosol lingering in the air.
While individuals might not notice the immediate effects of CO, the symptoms keep stacking up in the background only to prove as deadly as ever in the long run. This is where regular mask-wearing can make a difference.