What Is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning? What Causes Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Carbon monoxide has no smell or taste; it is a byproduct of combustion. Humans and other animals with lungs cannot tell when they are breathing in carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide competes with oxygen for binding sites on hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen from our lungs to tissues all over our body, and returns carbon dioxide from the tissues. Carbon monoxide binds to hemoglobin with a binding affinity over 200 times greater than that of oxygen. In other words, carbon dioxide is much better at getting into hemoglobin that oxygen is. If oxygen cannot get into hemoglobin because that space is occupied with carbon monoxide, then parts of our body (tissues) will be starved of oxygen and die. Our bodies have no use for carbon monoxide, when we breathe it in; it deprives our blood of oxygen. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), at least 200 people die each year in the USA from carbon monoxide poisoning. Vitas Gerulaiti