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Essay: Carbon monoxide

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  • Subject area(s): Health essays
  • Reading time: 2 minutes
  • Price: Free download
  • Published: 25 October 2015*
  • File format: Text
  • Words: 382 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 2 (approx)

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Adverse direct impacts on vegetation by CO at ambient concentrations have not been reported. As a precursor of carbon dioxide and ozone, CO indirectly contributes to global warming and to direct effects by ozone to vegetation and materials.
Carbon monoxide enters the body via inhalation and is diffused across the alveolar membrane with nearly the same ease as oxygen (O2). Carbon monoxide is first dissolved in blood, but is quickly bound to hemoglobin (Hb) to form COHb, which is measured as the percentage of hemoglobin so bound. The binding of carbon monoxide to hemoglobin occurs with nearly the same speed and ease as with which oxygen binds to hemoglobin, although the bond for carbon monoxide is about 245 times as strong as that for oxygen. Thus carbon monoxide competes equivocally with oxygen for hemoglobin binding sites but, unlike oxygen, which is quickly and easily dissociated from its hemoglobin bond, carbon monoxide remains bound for a much longer time. In this way, COHb continues to increase with continued exposure, leaving progressively less hemoglobin available for carrying oxygen. Another effect of COHb is to increase the binding strength of oxygen to hemoglobin, thus making` release of oxygen into tissue more difficult.
The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may resemble other types of poisonings and infections, including symptoms such as headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, and a feeling of weakness. Affected families often believe, they are victims of food poisoning. Infants may be irritable and feed poorly. Neurological signs include confusion, disorientation, visual disturbance, syncope and seizures. Exposures are generally at relatively low carbon monoxide levels, have demonstrated increased incidences of low birth weight, congenital defects, infant and adult mortality, cardiovascular admissions, congestive heart failure, stroke, asthma, tuberculosis, pneumonia, etc.
Exposures to carbon monoxide may cause significant damage to the heart and central nervous system, especially to the globus pallidus, often with long-term chronic pathological conditions. Carbon monoxide may have severe adverse effects on the fetus of a pregnant woman.
There are many hundreds of millions, indeed billions of people around the world who are currently chronically exposed to carbon monoxide indoors. Such exposure has been reported to alter health in a number of ways, including physical symptoms, sensory’motor changes, cognitive memory deficits, emotional’psychiatric alterations, cardiac events and low birth weight.

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