The Silent Killer: Carbon Monoxide

You may be wondering why carbon monoxide is dangerous? According to recent statistics, carbon monoxide (CO) is responsible for more than 50 deaths per year throughout the United Kingdom (1). A further 4,000 victims will likewise require prompt medical treatment in order to avoid serious complications caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. Often labelled the "silent killer", carbon monoxide is one of the most hazardous gases in regards to exposure. This is why commercial and industrial environments need to be well aware of the associated dangers, as well as carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms. So, why is carbon monoxide poisoning called the silent killer? What risks does it pose? What are some of the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning and what steps can property owners take to ensure that personnel and the general public are safe at all times? It is important to address each of these topics in order to appreciate just how serious of a threat carbon monoxide can pose.

Why is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Called the Silent Killer? Your Questions Answered

The majority of hazardous gases are associated with some type of colour, odour or immediate respiratory effects. Chlorine is known for its distinctive green hue. Hydrogen sulphide is associated with a "rotten egg" smell. Commercial cleaning agents such as ammonia are immediately recognisable due to their irritating effects upon the lungs and throat. Carbon monoxide is much different in these respects. The silent killer, carbon monoxide is much different in these respects, which is why it is so dangerous.

Carbon monoxide is colourless and odourless. Furthermore, it does not sink or float within the air. It is distributed evenly due to its light molecular weight. It can, therefore, be quickly diffused into the surrounding environment, making it nearly impossible to detect. On a final note, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning only become visible after a considerable amount of gas has been inhaled. This signifies that those who suffer from its effects are in a considerable amount of danger if they are not immediately treated by a trained medical professional. This is why carbon monoxide is so dangerous.

A Quick Look at the Telltale Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Another reason why the silent killer carbon monoxide is so dangerous arises from the fact that many of the initial symptoms may appear rather innocuous. Some early warning signs that an individual has been exposed to this gas include:

  • Dizziness
  • Muscular weakness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath

These carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms are fairly common symptoms for a range of different illnesses, which is why it may be difficult to determine the exact cause. If these symptoms are not recognised, more severe issues will begin to occur. Blurred vision, a tightness in the chest, heart palpitations, confusion, and loss of consciousness can soon follow. These will ultimately lead to coma, respiratory collapse and in extreme situations, death. It is therefore clear to see that the presence of carbon monoxide within a commercial environment can never be ignored. By ignoring the silent killer carbon monoxide, you are putting everyone who enters the premise at great risk.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Treatment

If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, it is vital to get into fresh air as soon as possible and seek help from a medical professional as soon as possible. In severe cases, carbon monoxide poisoning treatment involves being administered pure oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth. This will help to protect heart and brain tissue from becoming permanently affected.

The Silent Killer Carbon Monoxide: What are Some Primary Sources?

There are many scenarios which can lead to a release of this dangerous gas. The burning of natural gas, propane and kerosene will all cause carbon monoxide to be liberated during the combustion process. This is particularly hazardous within commercial settings associated with engines and similar types of machinery that use these substances as sources of fuel. A handful of additional sources can include:

  • Vehicle exhaust
  • Petrol-powered engines
  • Portable electrical generators
  • Forklifts
  • Space heaters

We also need to note that the chances of carbon poisoning will dramatically increase of the sources mentioned above are used within poorly ventilated areas (such as warehouses and garages that have not been equipped with exhaust fans). The main issue here is that commercial and industrial workplaces tend to be quite busy. Therefore, workers may not recognise the initial symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning until a significant amount of damage has already taken place. Enlisting air quality specialists to test and inspect the air quality in your building is the best way to ensure the safety of everyone.

How Can Air Quality Plan Help?

There are several steps which can be taken in order to ensure the early detection of carbon monoxide. One of the most common is to employ carbon monoxide (CO) detectors within areas where this gas could be present. However, it is just as critical to obtain an indoor air quality assessment. This examination is intended to provide managers and site supervisors with the insight required to take the appropriate safety measures within the workplace. These assessments are likewise necessary in order to remain in compliance with governmental and safety regulations. Each workplace comes with different risks, which is why it is important to invest in indoor air quality inspections. A member of our team will be able to provide accurate advice and guidance that is specific to you and your business, rather than a more generic overview. The good news is that such examinations can be carried out within relatively short periods of time, so your ongoing commercial operations will not be adversely affected.

Why is carbon monoxide poisoning called the silent killer? Whether referring to the fact that it is odourless or that the onset of symptoms can be quite rapid, the fact of the matter is that more individuals are killed by carbon monoxide than by any other gas. This is why it is important to contact Air Quality Plan so that a thorough on-site assessment can be carried out.

If you require any additional information regarding the silent killer carbon monoxide, get in touch today on 01489 660327, or visit our Contact Us Page here. We are always happy to offer advice and guidance.


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