WHAT IS CARBON MONOXIDE?
Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that can be lethal in high concentrations. In nature, carbon monoxide is formed through the oxidation of methane, which is a common gas produced by the decomposition of organic matter. The primary man-made source of carbon monoxide is the incomplete combustion of fuels such as gasoline.For the combustion process to be complete, adequate oxygen must be present. When oxygen is not present in sufficient quantities, carbon monoxide is formed. The Clean Air Act of 1970 set the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), through which concentrations of carbon monoxide are limited to ensure public safety.
EFFECTS OF C ARBON MONOXIDE
The health effects of carbon monoxide depend largely on the concentration of the compound found in ambient air and the duration of exposure to the higher concentrations. CO’s effect on humans results from the effect of carbon monoxide on the supply of oxygen in the blood stream. Normally, blood cells transport oxygen throughout the body. When carbon monoxide is present, the blood cells are more attracted to CO that to oxygen, resulting in oxygen deprivation. Short term exposure of high levels of CO can cause fatigue. Long term effects may influence a persons chances of developing lung and heart disease.
Such simple steps as tuning a vehicle’s engine can influence carbon monoxide levels. Well functioning mufflers can also help in lowering CO concentrations. Carbon monoxide is especially problematic in urban areas having a large number of automobiles. This is why many government agencies require vehicle inspections on a regular basis.