How much Carbon Monoxide can harm me?

Even tiny amounts of carbon monoxide can cause harm; and long term exposure to small amounts of CO (assuming they are not fatal) can even cause permanent brain damage.

The presence of Carbon Monoxide is measured in parts per million.  The following table gives an indication of the harm different amounts of the gas can cause:

50 PPM The maximum safety level as defined by the Health and Safety Executive
200 PPM Slight headache, tiredness, dizziness and nausea after 2-3 hours
400PPM Frontal headache within 1-2 hours,life threatening after 3 hours
800 PPM Dizziness, nausea and convulsions within 45 minutes.  Unconsciousness within 2 hours.  Death within 2-3 hours
1600 PPM Headache, dizziness and nausea with 20 minutes.  Death within 1 hour
6400 PPM Headache, dizziness and nausea within 1-2 minutes.  Death within 10-15 minutes

A Carbon Monoxide Alarm should give a shrill alarm within the following timetables (according to European Standard EN50291:2001), so protecting you from illness or death, even if you are asleep:

50   PPM The unit must alarm within 60 - 90 minutes
100 PPM The unit must alarm with 10 - 40 minutes
300 PPM The unit must alarm in less than 3 minutes

Carbon Monoxide harms by entering the lungs as you breathe normally and displacing oxygen from the bloodstream.  This interrupts the normal supply of oxygen to the vital organs and puts your life at risk.



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