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Misconceptions about Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide is Not Well Understood

Misconceptions

Properties, Presence & Detection:

  • CO is easy to detect.
  • CO is lighter than air and therefore rises (to the ceiling) and stays there.
  • CO is not combustible.
  • CO and natural gas are the same thing.
  • You can always tell if CO is present because of a peculiar odor that will be present.
  • A brand new, well designed, perfectly "tuned" heating/cooking device cannot produce toxic/lethal amounts of CO.
  • Diesel engine exhaust never contains adequate CO to cause harm.
  • HVAC and gas company personnel always check for CO when performing maintenance/service on home heating systems.
  • CO will be detected immediately by service personnel if it is present in a home heating system.
  • When your home CO detector shows low levels of CO, it is probably just an instrument malfunction.
  • Cracks in heat exchangers are responsible for production of CO.
  • Home CO detectors/sensors are the best devices to ferret out CO because they react to very low levels of the gas.

More Misconceptions

Physiology

  • CO binding to hemoglobin is irreversible.
  • CO (caused) hypoxia is no more serious than any other type of hypoxia.
  • CO poisoning is no more serious than an anemia in which there is a comparable amount of hemoglobin able to carry oxygen.
  • Small animals (birds, mice, etc.) die more quickly because their hemoglobin binds CO more avidly than that of humans, thus they were used as alarms for CO in mines.
  • The fetus is protected from CO by the maternal body.
  • Good COHb measurements can be obtained one day to a week after a person leaves the site of the CO poisoning.
  • Breathing "clean" air for 2-3 hours will eliminate all CO from the body.
  • Breathing 100% oxygen for 20-30 minutes will eliminate all CO from the body.
  • Breathing (filter) masks protect the wearer from inhalation of CO.

More Misconceptions

Symptoms

  • The skin, nail beds, etc. of people with CO poisoning are invariably red or pink in color.
  • Fever is a symptom of CO poisoning.
  • Nasal congestion, cough and hoarseness are symptoms of CO.
  • The lungs are inflammed by low to moderate levels of CO and will show pathology on X-rays.
  • Symptom clusters involving prolonged headache, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue of the whole family should be blamed on viruses, bad food, or group craziness.
  • Everyone responds to CO in the same way, ie. show the same symptoms.

Even More Misconceptions

Treatment, Outcome

  • Inhalation of 100% oxygen from a re-breathing mask or from nasal prongs are recommended best immediate means of removing CO from the body.
  • Victims of CO poisoning should be released from medical care immediately following 1-2 hours of oxygen treatment, whether or not their symptoms have disappeared.
  • There is no need for repeat COHb measurements, psychometric tests, or other clinical tests following medical treatment for CO poisoning.
  • People who recover from CO poisoning are always completely normal.
  • Depression and personality change never result from CO poisoning.
  • CO exposure never produces brain damage unless there is a period of unconsciousness.
  • Low / moderate CO exposure cannot produce brain damage or significant changes in functional performance.
  • In environments containing CO, the levels of CO2, oxygen and other gases are unimportant in the degree of poisoning.

Miscellaneous

  • Physicians receive adequate training in the diagnosis and treatment of CO poisoning in medical school.
  • Physicians obtain adequate experience with CO poisoning in treating their patients.
  • Psychiatrists and neurologists are the best medical professionals of choice to determine the extent of CNS damage caused by CO.
  • High-tech imaging devices (CT, MR, SPECT) always shows areas of brain damage from CO poisoning, if it exists.

Used with permission from the author David G. Penney, PH.D.



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Air Systems Mechanical Contracting, Inc.

427 Constitution Blvd.
New Brighton, PA 15066
(724) 774-9030
Business Hours:
Monday - Friday:
8:00am - 4:00pm
24 Hour / 7 Days
Emergency Service
Air Systems Mechanical Contracting, Inc. works with American Standard Furnace products in Beaver Falls PA.
Air Systems Mechanical is a member of IGSHPA
For your Furnace repair in New Brighton PA, trust a NATE certified contractor.
Air Systems Mechanical is a participating contractor in First Energy energy efficiency program.

 
Air Systems Mechanical Contracting, Inc. is a Pennsylvania (PA) Heating, Cooling, Plumbing, Air Conditioning, Geothermal, Furnace Repair, service, replacement, duct cleaning and maintenance Contractor located in Beaver County, PA.  Air Systems will send you their best technician for your boiler repairs, furnace repairs, a/c repairs, propane furnace repairs, furnace replacements, a/c replacements, boiler replacements in Aliquippa PA, Ambridge PA, Baden PA, Beaver PA, Beaver Falls PA, Bradfordwoods PA, Clinton PA, Conway PA, Coraopolis PA, Cranberry PA, Darlington PA, Ellwood City PA, Enon Valley PA, Evans City PA, Fombell PA, Freedom PA, Georgetown PA, Harmony PA, Hookstown PA, Imperial PA, Industry PA, Midland PA, Monaca PA, New Brighton PA, Rochester PA, Sewickley PA, Zelienople PA, Leetsdale PA, Montour PA, New Galilee PA, Prospect PA, Wampum PA,Warrendale PA, and Wexford PA.  To set up a repair service estimate or replacement estimate call Air Systems at (724) 774-9030. So when you ask to find "A good heating and air conditioning repair or service company or plumber near me," you've come to the right place.  Air Systems Mechanical Contracting, Inc. serves Beaver County, Lawrence County, Butler County, Allegheny County.  Air Systems Mechanical Contracting, Inc. services and repairs all makes and models of heating and cooling equipment. Call us for furnace repairs, a/c repairs, free estimates on replacements. Air Systems Mechanical Contracting, Inc. is a Trane Comfort Specialist Dealer. Air Systems Mechanical, Inc services all furnaces, A/Cs, humidifiers, filters, thermostats and water heater brands including Trane, Lennox, Amana, Goodman, Thermopride, Weil McLain, Rheem, April Aire, Honeywell, Carrier.