A toxic gas, which is both colorless and odorless, carbon monoxide is usually produced as a by product of combustion. Inhalation of large levels of this gas is dangerous for the human body.
Carbon monoxide is generally produced from appliances that use fuel. Some of the common appliances that produce carbon monoxide are water heaters, gas stoves, automobiles, grills that use charcoal, wood stoves and yard equipment. For the production of carbon monoxide, heaters used in homes are mostly to be blamed. Due to incomplete combustion in these heaters, carbon monoxide is produced.
Generally the carbon monoxide poisoning levels are 50 parts per million for healthy adults. This exposure however, has to be for a continuous period of about eight hours. If the levels of carbon monoxide become higher than that, it can become fatal.
The blood's ability to carry oxygen is greatly affected due to carbon monoxide exposure. Due to exposure to carbon monoxide, hemoglobin of the blood forms carboxyhemoglobin which is a compound that doesn't have the ability to carry oxygen. Carbon monoxide therefore makes hemoglobin unavailable to the body.
The concentration of the gas greatly affects the amount of carboxyhemoglobin that is created. The half life of carboxyhemoglobin in blood is quite high. It takes some time for the carboxyhemoglobin to return to the normal state.
Since this gas is both colorless and odorless, it is not easy to detect it. The common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning like fatigue, nausea, and headaches are usually mistaken for flu.
Some of the high risk behavior that could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning is: