Several thousand American workers get sick annually because of exposure to carbon monoxide; hundreds, on average, die from their exposure. In fact, as a toxin, it has killed or made more people sick on the job than any other form of poison. This gas is a by-product of combustion, so depending on where you work, there could be a high chance your workplace is susceptible to carbon monoxide exposure. Carbon monoxide gas detection monitors are critical if you want to ensure your safety. Here are some basic facts about the gas and its effect on humans.
Why It Is Deadly
Carbon monoxide binds to hemoglobin much easier than oxygen. Oxygen binds to hemoglobin and is distributed throughout the body. Due to the fact that it binds easier, carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen that can bind to a hemoglobin cell. This deprives your body of needed oxygen. If the carbon monoxide exposure is severe enough, your body will become so oxygen deprived that you will lose consciousness and, if not treated fast, the results could be fatal.
Carbon monoxide poisoning, as you might have guessed, is not painless nor peaceful. Your body makes an extraordinary effort to take in oxygen once it realizes it is being deprived. That can lead to convulsions, seizures, headaches, vomiting, and even distended and swollen joints and organs.
Large volumes of carbon monoxide are also highly combustible. Fires or explosions are real possibilities if the gas is concentrated enough. And because it is odorless, carbon monoxide can build up without anyone knowing. This is why having the best gas detection monitor in your workplace is imperative.
Thresholds of Toxicity
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set limits on exposure to 50 parts of carbon monoxide per million parts of air over the entire course of an eight-hour period. If exposure reaches 100 parts per million, it is considered very dangerous and is a serious violation. Over 500 parts per million is considered highly dangerous with poisoning, burning, or explosions imminent.
An industrial or home gas detection monitor will be calibrated for a more sensitive threshold than the OSHA standard. The same applies to gas leak detection monitors. Additionally, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), an institute that researches topics for OSHA, has recommended the thresholds be altered so that 35 parts per million and exposure of over 200 parts per million of carbon monoxide be considered highly toxic.
The OSHA and NIOSH standards are set based on the exposure thresholds of a healthy, young worker performing in a non-strenuous work environment. Older workers and pregnant women as well as children are more susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning. Additionally, workers who perform highly strenuous labor may feel the effects of poisoning more quickly than others.
Carbon monoxide is a silent and odorless killer — that’s why it’s so imperative to be proactive about preventing a carbon monoxide leak. In almost every case, gas detection and leak detection gas monitors can help avoid exposure and toxicity. If your workplace does not have gas detection monitors installed or if you think you need an upgrade, contact DOD Technologies, Incorporated. They can answer all your questions and help you make your workplace as safe as possible.