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Avoiding Co2 Poisoning

By David Holmes on August 11, 2008

Avoiding Co2 Poisoning

Carbon dioxide, or Co2, is an often-overlooked killer. Although the air always contains an amount of Co2 that we breathe in and out every day, and is perfectly harmless in normal conditions, a build up of Co2 in the air will cause humans and animals to absorb less oxygen into their bloodstream through the walls of the lungs, instead increasing the levels of Co2 in the bloodstream in its place and slowly starve the body of oxygen, leading to brain damage and even death. Co2 is not harmful in itself, it is just the over accumulation of it will take up space for oxygen in the air – usually in air there is around 21% Co2, much less outside or in greener areas, but anything significantly more than that is dangerous. Co2 is both colourless and odourless and is classed as a ‘greenhouse gas’, and the increase of it is debated to be one of the main causes of global warming.
Babies are the most susceptible to Co2 poisoning due to their delicacy and the habit of parents to wrap up babies in many layers of clothing and blankets as they sleep, especially in areas that may have lower than usual ventilation. Co2 has been argued by many to be one of the causes of ‘SIDS’ – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Boilers and Central Heating Systems and Co2

Boilers that create Co2, such as a gas boilers, are all fitted with a special flue that directs the gas up and out of the home without it leaking into the air of the household. It is rare, but sometimes these flues can become damaged and cause Co2 to seep out into the household, and cause a higher ratio of Co2 in the air, which could be dangerous. To prevent this, it is strongly advised that you service your boiler thoroughly by a qualified CORGI trained engineer once a year, who will check for any leaks or damage to your boiler system.

Methods of Prevention

Keeping your home well-ventilated is key to preventing a build-up of Co2. Air conditioning systems in offices and homes are usually effective at only transporting the same air round an area without replenishing oxygen, so it is wise to keep windows open with a fan circulating air in small rooms containing babies, the elderly or small children if you are worried about Co2 build-up. Adults and the more active are less likely to be affected by Co2, but never keep all windows and doors closed in the home, or enter poorly ventilated areas for too long or without someone keeping an eye on you. Co2 poisoning is quick and undetectable, and can cause damage in only a breath or two, with people often slipping into unconsciousness without even realising. Sensors that detect Co2 are costly, and not essential like a carbon monoxide detector.
Appliances in the home can create extra Co2 in the atmosphere, so making sure that they are all serviced and functioning correctly is essential, and therefore not creating any extra unnecessary Co2.