Definition

Carbon monoxide (CO). A poisonous colorless, odorless, tasteless gas. It combines with hemoglobin to form carboxyhemoglobin, which has no oxygen carrying capacity. The resultant oxygen deprivation causes headache, dizziness, decreased pulse and respiratory rates, unconsciousness, and death. (From Merck Index, 11th ed) Carbon monoxide, with the chemical formula CO, is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas. It is the product of the incomplete combustion of carbon-containing compounds, notably in internal-combustion engines. It consists of one carbon atom covalently bonded to one oxygen atom. It is a gas at room temperature. Carbon monoxide is a significantly toxic gas and is the most common type of fatal poisoning in many countries.Exposures can lead to significant toxicity of the central nervous system and heart. Following poisoning, long-term sequelae often occur. Carbon monoxide can also have severe effects on the fetus of a pregnant woman. Despite its serious toxicity, CO is extremely useful and underpins much modern technology, being a precursor to a myriad of useful - even life-saving - products. Carbon monoxide, though thought of as a pollutant today, has always been present in the atmosphere, chiefly as a product of volcanic activity. It occurs dissolved in molten volcanic rock at high pressures in the earth's mantle. Carbon monoxide contents of volcanic gases vary from less than 0.01% to as much as 2% depending on the volcano. It also occurs naturally in bushfires. Because natural sources of carbon monoxide are so variable from year to year, it is extremely difficult to accurately measure natural emissions of the gas. (wikipedia) [HMDB]

Description

Carbon monoxide, with the chemical formula CO, is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas. It is the product of the incomplete combustion of carbon-containing compounds, notably in internal-combustion engines. It consists of one carbon atom covalently bonded to one oxygen atom. It is a gas at room temperature. Carbon monoxide is a significantly toxic gas and is the most common type of fatal poisoning in many countries. Exposures can lead to significant toxicity of the central nervous system and heart. Carbon monoxide has a higher diffusion coefficient compared to oxygen and the only enzyme in the human body that produces carbon monoxide is heme oxygenase which is located in all cells and breaks down heme. Because it has a higher diffusion coefficient than oxygen the body easily gets rid of any CO made. When CO is not ventilated it binds to hemoglobin, which is the principal oxygen-carrying compound in blood; this produces a compound known as carboxyhemoglobin. The traditional belief is that carbon monoxide toxicity arises from the formation of carboxyhemoglobin, which decreases the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood and inhibits the transport, delivery, and utilization of oxygen by the body. The affinity between hemoglobin and carbon monoxide is approximately 230 times stronger than the affinity between hemoglobin and oxygen so hemoglobin binds to carbon monoxide in preference to oxygen. Following poisoning, long-term sequelae often occur. Carbon monoxide can also have severe effects on the fetus of a pregnant woman. Despite its serious toxicity, CO is extremely useful and underpins much modern technology, being a precursor to a myriad of useful - even life-saving - products. Carbon monoxide, though thought of as a pollutant today, has always been present in the atmosphere, chiefly as a product of volcanic activity. It occurs dissolved in molten volcanic rock at high pressures in the earth's mantle. Carbon monoxide contents of volcanic gases vary from less than 0.01% to as much as 2% depending on the volcano. It also occurs naturally in bushfires. Because natural sources of carbon monoxide are so variable from year to year, it is extremely difficult to accurately measure natural emissions of the gas. (wikipedia).

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