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What is the difference between carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide poisoning?
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What is the difference between carbon monoxide poisoning and carbon dioxide poisoning?

The principle of harm is not the same

Carbon monoxide and hemoglobin have more affinity than oxygen and can take up hemoglobin, leading to hypoxia.

Carbon dioxide binds to plasma, causing abnormal blood pH, inhibiting breathing, and causing suffocation.

In layman's terms: carbon monoxide is poisoning, carbon dioxide is suffocation.

Carbon monoxide poisoning: Carbon monoxide poisoning is inhalation through the respiratory tract when the product of incomplete combustion of carbon-containing substances occurs. The poisoning mechanism is that the affinity of carbon monoxide and hemoglobin is 200~300 times higher than that of oxygen and hemoglobin, so carbon monoxide is easy to combine with hemoglobin to form carboxyhemoglobin, so that hemoglobin loses its oxygen-carrying ability and effect, resulting in tissues

After carbon monoxide poisoning, it has a toxic effect on the tissue cells of the human body, especially on the cerebral cortex. By the time people realize that carbon monoxide poisoning has occurred, it's often too late. Because the cerebral cortex, which governs human movement, is the first to be paralyzed, making it impossible for people to achieve purposeful voluntary movements. As a result, people with carbon monoxide poisoning are often unable to effectively help themselves.

Carbon dioxide poisoning

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a colorless, odorless gas that is slightly heavier than air, with only 0.03% in air. Carbon dioxide can be produced by biological respiration, bacterial fermentation, and combustion of organic matter. Carbon dioxide itself is non-toxic. The mechanism of toxicity is:

1. Low concentrations of carbon dioxide can excite the respiratory center and accelerate the deepening of breathing. High concentrations of carbon dioxide can inhibit and paralyze the respiratory center.

2. Because the diffusion ability of carbon dioxide is 25 times stronger than that of oxygen, carbon dioxide can easily diffuse from the alveoli to the blood, causing respiratory acidosis. Isolated carbon dioxide poisoning is rare in clinical practice, and is often accompanied by a decrease in oxygen concentration due to an increase in carbon dioxide in the air. For example, vegetables and fruits stored in the kiln produce carbon dioxide and oxygen is consumed during respiration. Poisoning that occurs when entering the cellar without protection is caused by high concentrations of carbon dioxide and lack of oxygen.

Tests have proved that carbon dioxide concentration in air with sufficient oxygen is 5%, which is not harmful to humans; However, a person can be poisoned by 4% carbon dioxide in air with an oxygen concentration of 17% or less. Hypoxia can cause pulmonary edema, cerebral edema, metabolic acidosis, electrolyte imbalances, shock, hypoxic encephalopathy, etc. At low concentrations, it is a physiological stimulant. When the content of this product in the air exceeds normal (0.03%), it can make the breathing deepen and accelerate; If the content is 1%, it can increase the respiratory volume of normal people by 25%; At a content of 3%, the respiratory volume is increased by 2 times. However, when the content is 25%, it can paralyze the respiratory center and cause acidosis, so the inhalation concentration should not exceed 10% (under normal oxygen content).

What are the scenarios where carbon monoxide poisoning is susceptible?

1. Scenes of daily life

(1) Burning coal. Burning coal for heating, using charcoal hot pot, etc. Coal is prone to incomplete combustion, producing a large amount of carbon monoxide, and if the room is closed and poorly ventilated, carbon monoxide poisoning can easily occur.

(2) Use a gas water heater. First: some families install gas water heaters in the bathroom, the gas is not completely burned, if the time is too long, it is easy to accumulate carbon monoxide, and the windows are closed in cold weather, and the ventilation is not smooth, which finally leads to poisoning. Second: the installation of water heaters or stoves is not standardized, such as unauthorized use without inspection by the gas company after private connection and installation, or the use of low-quality gasers, the stove is blown and dripping when burning, improper opening and closing of the switch, aging and falling off of the hose, etc.

(3) Automobile exhaust. Some people like to sleep in the car with the air conditioner on, and at this time, when the car engine is idling and idling, the gasoline is not burned sufficiently, which will produce a large amount of exhaust gases containing carbon monoxide, and the exhaust gases enter the car through the car's air conditioner

2. Production scenario

Enterprises that use coal or gas as raw materials can cause carbon monoxide poisoning due to leakage of gas pipelines, poor closure of furnace doors, or workers entering a limited (confined space) furnace (tank) that is not fully ventilated during the production process.

Carbon dioxide can be produced by biological respiration, bacterial fermentation, and combustion of organic matter. Isolated carbon dioxide poisoning is rarely seen clinically. Carbon dioxide, unlike carbon monoxide, is inherently non-toxic. Common scenarios for CO2 poisoning are:

1. Daily life: (1) Unprotected access to long-term unventilated vegetable cellars, gutters, sewers, etc. (2) Use a gas water heater in a closed, cramped kitchen or bathroom. (3) Use dry ice or carbon dioxide fire extinguishers to extinguish the fire in poorly ventilated areas.

2. Production site: The production site is mainly for the furnace (tank) body that enters the long-term unventilated mine, closed warehouse, ship bottom, etc., or enters the long-term unventilated limited space or confined space to carry out inspection and maintenance operations.

How can I prevent carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide poisoning?

Prevention of carbon monoxide poisoning:


Inspect gas pipes and appliances regularly to make sure there are no damage or leaks.



When using gas, make sure it is well ventilated to avoid gas accumulation indoors.



Do not burn charcoal or charcoal indoors for heating, especially in a confined environment.



When using a gas stove or gas water heater, make sure that the use method and operation are correct to prevent accidents.



Install a carbon monoxide alarm and check it regularly for proper functioning.


Prevention of carbon dioxide poisoning:


When working in confined spaces, make sure there is adequate ventilation to reduce carbon dioxide concentrations.



Avoid staying in a closed car, basement or poorly ventilated environment for long periods of time.



Use an air purifier in your home or office to ensure good air quality.



Avoid chemicals or equipment that produce carbon dioxide.


Overall, the key to preventing carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide poisoning is to maintain good ventilation and avoid staying in a confined environment for long periods of time. But one of the more important points is to install carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide alarms.

The following air detectors are highly recommended: