What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Carbon monoxide is an odourless gas with no detectable visible appearance, taste or smell. Carbon monoxide occurs when there is an incomplete combustion process of certain fuels. If you are a commercial business owner, it is vital that you are familiar with the causes and signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, as even a small leak of this dangerous gas can prove deadly. By knowing the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, you can ensure that your staff, clients and other visitors to your premises will be protected should any leak of this type of gas occur.

What is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Throughout England and Wales, 60 people will lose their lives to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning every year. As most cases of high-level exposure to carbon monoxide occur accidentally, it is very important to be familiar with how a leak may happen and why this gas is so deadly. Carbon monoxide enters the body by breathing it in. Once you have inhaled carbon monoxide, it will then start to mix with your body's red blood cells or haemoglobin. The red blood cells enable oxygen to pass throughout the body, so once they become compromised, this can prove extremely dangerous. Low levels of carbon monoxide exposure, from 15%-20%, will result in milder symptoms. But severe carbon monoxide exposure levels, of between 41%-60%, can be fatal.

Signs and Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Although carbon monoxide itself is extremely hard to detect, there are a number of clear signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. These include -

  • Headaches
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Blurred Vision, Dizziness and Confusion
  • Chest Pains, Palpitations, Difficulty Breathing
  • Cardiac Arrest

Whilst some of the early symptoms are more mild, such as headaches and nausea, the more severe the saturation of carbon monoxide in the bloodstream, the more extreme the symptoms will appear. Those with the highest levels of exposure to carbon monoxide may also suffer seizures, pulmonary edemas, comas and even death. This is why it is so vital to spot the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning as early as possible in order to prevent a fatal outcome for the person exposed.

Dangers of High Level or Long Term Carbon Monoxide Exposure

The most severe cases of carbon monoxide poisoning usually occur in one of two ways. Either a person is exposed to a very high level of the gas during a short period of time, which will usually result in a loss of consciousness within a two-hour timeframe. This is most often when accidental deaths as a result of exposure occur. The second case is long term exposure to carbon monoxide, where a person may be exposed to a lower level of carbon monoxide but over an increased time period. Although long term exposure may not result in the most severe symptoms straight away, it can still prove extremely harmful to anyone exposed. Symptoms can include frequent tension headaches, confusion, depression, increased irritability and more impulsive or irrational behaviour. The damage of long term carbon monoxide exposure can also be dangerous enough to kill, so it should not be underestimated.

How to Protect Your Commercial Premises From Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

There are a number of different ways you can protect your commercial premises against the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. As a business or commercial property owner, protecting your employees as well as anyone who visits your premises is your legal responsibility. It is important to take the ramifications of carbon monoxide poisoning seriously, as you would still hold liability even if a leak occurred accidentally. In fact, the Center for Disease Control registered an alarming total of 600 deaths in the workplace from carbon monoxide poisoning last year, so it is essential to take action to avoid your business adding to this number of fatalities.

If you have any questions regarding the points raised in this blog, or if you would like to utilise our services please contact a specialist at Air Quality Plan as soon as possible.

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