Sunday, December 14, 2008

Carbon Monoxide Facts

It may be said that one of the greatest and most pathetically hilarious ironies of modern living would be the signs warning of the dangers of cigarette smoking printed right on the pack of cigarettes itself. It has become as commonplace as the cigarette's own brand that smokers and non-smokers alike already consider it as one of the trivialities of daily life. Flipping the top part of the pack to get a stick of cigarette, smokers would probably not even give it so much as a glance, let alone heed its warning.

However, current developments in modern scientific research combined with an all-out campaign against smoking has yielded favorable results, leading to an increase in the number of people working hard at kicking this very deadly habit. Said to have more than 4,000 chemical components, 69 of which are carcinogenic, tobacco or cigarettes poses very serious risks to our lives in general. Of the many deadly components found in a single cigarette stick, one of them is carbon monoxide. Primarily intended for producing gas, carbon monoxide is not responsible for the addictive effects. However, it greatly contributes to the dangers of smoking, adding to one of the many reasons why we should put an end to it once and for all.

What is carbon monoxide?

In chemistry, CO stands for carbon monoxide; a kind of gas that has neither smell, taste, nor color. It is made by means of the partial combustion of compounds with carbon components. It is the kind of gas that is more likely to be formed than carbon dioxide if there is less oxygen present during the combustion process. Although it is considered generally toxic, it bears a significant fuel value and is very useful in modern technology.

Along with nitrogen oxides, hydrogen cyanide, and ammonia; carbon monoxide is also contained in cigarette smoke. Usually, we already have some of it in our blood due to our surroundings. However, smoking tobacco or cigarette increases it. The amount varies in accordance to an individual's exposure to it combined with the rate at which he or she smokes per day. For a person who regularly smokes at least a pack daily, his or her CO level would be around 20 parts per million. If he or she smokes more than a pack, it only stands to reason that this figure would go up considerably. However, looking at the bright side, the amount of CO could be decreased, too. Given that the concerned individual would cease smoking for a day or two, his or her CO level would diminish to its normal level.

How does carbon monoxide affect our body?

Carbon monoxide makes its way to our bloodstream when we inhale it through the lungs. Once it mixes with our hemoglobin, it displaces the oxygen therein. Thus, it decreases the normal amount of the latter, which is necessitated by our heart. Being exposed to carbon monoxide could produce the following symptoms: fatigue, headache, discombobulation, nausea, vomiting, and increased heart rate. carbon monoxide is lethal, but it is reliant on the amount we are exposed to. If we have been exposed to low concentrations of it for a long period of time, we are likely to develop heart disease. For pregnant women, it could endanger their unborn fetus.

Resource Box: Maricel Modesto is a writer and editor who writes for various health and lifestyle magazines.

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