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Sensitive Population

What people are most sensitive to damage by carbon monoxide?

Anyone can be killed or injured by carbon monoxide present in the air. However, some people are more sensitive to carbon monoxide poisoning and get affected when their COHb blood levels are even lower than 10%, which means 10% of the oxygen carrying sites in a person’s blood are taken up by carbon monoxide.  

Many complex interactions occur during CO poisoning, including damage to the hormone levels in the body. This is why women who are heavy smokers and constantly exposed to low levels of carbon monoxide through cigarette smoke often develop some masculine features and a low husky voice.  Even passive smokers can be affected over time and the EPA Air Quality Criteria for safe carbon monoxide levels elaborates on these very low-level cumulative effects. 

Unborn children can also be affected by low levels of carbon monoxide in the air because their own hemoglobin will remove carbon monoxide from the mother’s blood and accumulate it into their own blood. This is why a pregnant woman can test negative for carbon monoxide poisoning while her exposed fetus remains undiagnosed and untreated.  Children who were exposed to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in the womb often exhibit mental development issues later on. Some fetuses can even die in the womb if their blood levels of COHb get too high and untreated. Quantum does not sell carbon monoxide detectors for this type of sensitive population but recommends their use to protect children’s health and their future potential. 

Other symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be difficult to diagnose as they are very similar to flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue, nausea, headaches, dizzy spells, confusion, and irritability.  Carbon monoxide is known as the great imitator (syphilis and tuberculosis are too) because symptoms of carbon monoxide are similar to many other illnesses and their real cause is sometimes hard to pinpoint. People also react differently to carbon monoxide poisoning, making the medical diagnosis even more difficult. Michael C. Dolan, M.D. discusses the many symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association Journal Vol. 133, September I, 1985 and the Annals of Emergency Medicine 16.7 July 1987 pages 782-787. Since it can affect the functioning of many organs, including the brain, carbon monoxide is a serious danger to your family’s health. Using carbon monoxide detectors is the best prevention to protect yourself and your family from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. 

For vitally important fire safety rules for kids go to the link below: