Father of teacher killed by carbon monoxide poisoning calls for national campaign

A great concept that we wholly agree with. There is not enough awareness when it comes to carbon monoxide poisoning, especially when other things are on our mind like of the young woman in the story below. Moving abroad or just moving in general, as well as holidays can mean our guard is down when it comes to CO safety. It is important to remain aware at all times, read the article and get behind the campaign. Read our blog for more CO safety information

 

Father of teacher killed by  carbon monoxide poisoning calls for national campaign

A man whose daughter was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning has called for greater awareness among Brits abroad.

Mark Dingley spoke at Westminster last week at an event convened by the All Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group (APPCOG).

Mr Dingley’s daughter Francesca died in Chengdu, China, in February 2015 aged 22, having just moved to the country to start work as an English teacher.

She was killed in her flat by carbon monoxide fumes from an incorrectly installed water heater.

Mr Dingley urged for alarms to be seen as “essential” travel items and for the industry to do more to encourage the public to take detectors with them when they go abroad.

He said: “People die needlessly from carbon monoxide simply because they know nothing about it.

“Educating the general population is key, the government, travel industry and energy suppliers could all do far more to raise awareness.

“We would like to see prominent and robust warnings in government travel advice, at airports and in ferry terminals, in railway and bus stations, in holiday brochures and on travel websites. Detectors should be available in the shops at airports and ferry terminals as well as in the travel sections of large retailers.”

Mr Dingley called for a national advertising campaign, and said advice on government websites must be delivered more forcefully.

On its website, the Foreign Office recommends those living in China should ensure their home contains a working carbon monoxide alarm.

David Burrowes, MP for Enfield Southgate and APPCOG member, said: “I was pleased to bring the Dingley family’s tragic loss to the attention of Parliament so that vital lifesaving lessons are learned.

“We are calling for action from the travel industry to make holiday and longer stay destinations safer, and for more awareness about the risks amongst the wider population, in order to empower people to protect themselves from the silent killer, both at home and abroad.

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All of us should be remaining aware, not just for ourselves but also for friends and family. You, or someone you know is probably going on holiday some time soon. Ensure they are aware of the risks of carbon monoxide when staying in hotels or camping. You can take a carbon monoxide alarm with you. Many places do not have the strict regulations this country has or have things made to British standard and you cannot rely on the hope that other people have done their jobs correctly. Mistakes do happen, don’t let this kind of tragedy happen to you. Carbon monoxide news stories here.

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Firefighters And Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide does not just come from faulty fuel burning appliances, it can be generated in a number of different ways and can target various people just there to do their jobs. The following article reviews how firefighters can be exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning, more articles available here.

 

How carbon monoxide kills firefighters
Understanding how carbon monoxide attacks the body is the first step in protecting against it

While looking for an SOP on a large metropolitan fire department’s website, I stumbled across something unrelated that caught my eye. This SOP was from a fire department I highly respect as leaders in safety and employee health.

To my surprise I noticed an SOP allowing for firefighters to remove their SCBA if the carbon monoxide level is less than 50 ppm in the sampling. It is commendable that a fire agency is addressing the exposure of CO and following OSHA’s permissible exposure limit of 50 parts per million over an 8-hour time frame.
Operational SOPs really need to look at the science and at the long-term and chronic exposure issues involving CO.

There has been excellent work done to identify the risk associated with CO from a knock down or acute illness standpoint. Yet some of the finer details are often missed in the attempt to get the message across.

This is due to a lack of surveillance on exposures and patient outcomes by federal agencies. It’s especially true when it comes to firefighters, as only a handful of NIOSH and NIST investigators really understand the fire service’s challenges with exposures to chemicals and suppression activities.

Many of these findings don’t make it into rehab policies. Therefore, the two insidious effects of exposure to carbon monoxide often go unrecognized in the fire service.

Hemoglobin geometry

The first of these relates to molecular change. Somewhere in EMT training you learned that CO has an affinity for hemoglobin 150 to 200 times higher than oxygen depending on the source.

What escapes a lot of educational programs on this is that when CO binds to hemoglobin, it also changes the geometry of the hemoglobin molecule.

The normal geometry of the hemoglobin molecule carrying oxygen and carbon dioxide is designed to travel swiftly and unobstructed through our blood vessels and capillary beds, even passing around the changes in arteries and veins as they become embedded with plaque.

The geometrical change in hemoglobin caused by carbon monoxide makes it harder to pass swiftly through the blood vessels and lends itself to clumping together, resulting often in a clot or obstruction. And the geometry change tends to make it sticky.

Couple this with someone with underlying heart disease and the other fire gases that can stop cellular activity and trigger low blood pressure, and you have a line of duty death categorized as cardiac when in fact it maybe toxicology related.

There is suspicion the extended time CO stays in the blood stream maybe be a causal factor in day-later deaths.

A radical CO

A second carbon monoxide lurking on the fire scene is known as CO in the radical form. If you have taken a fire chemistry course, one of the principle concepts is the formation of compounds or elements that are called free radicals.

Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons and can form when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. Fire often provides the environment that uses oxygen to create these free radicals.

Once formed, these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction damaging cells, tissue and organs. Free radicals like carbon monoxide like to attack tissue and cells.

A favorite target for the radical CO is the myelin sheath of a nerve cell.

A myelin sheath is like the insulation on a wire; it ensures the electricity or nerve impulse gets to site of where it is used. When a wire’s insulation has a hole in it, the electrical signal is interrupted or delayed, often going somewhere it should not.

The full article can be read here

Most of us only learn of carbon monoxide when we are exposed to it in our homes but it is often the fire brigade that is a port of call when these situations are triggered. Below, residents had lucky escape thanks to firefighters discovered elevated carbon monoxide levels in these homes.

Carbon-monoxide levels spike; residents ‘lucky’ they were out

Leominster Fire Department Lt. Jay Leblanc measures the airflow around the door of a home on 23 Fairmont St. that was found to have dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide leaking from a broken exhaust pipe on a heating unit. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / SCOTT LAPRADE

LEOMINSTER – When firefighters responded to a call of elevated carbonmonoxide levels at a three-family home Wednesday morning, they were relieved to find no one home after detecting extremely high levels of the deadly gas.

“They were lucky,” Deputy Fire Chief Scott Cordio about residents of the triple-decker at 23 Fairmont St. “If anyone was in the home, the situation could have been very dangerous.”

Carbon-monoxide levels in the home were measured by responding firefighters at 500 parts per million, he said. The state considers levels below 9 parts per million to be safe.

Cordio said the department was alerted to the problem when the homeowners went to check on the unoccupied first-floor unit after hearing the carbon- monoxide detectors going off.

Read the full article on this page
We cannot always rely on the fire service to be there for us or to find carbon monoxide leaks in time. It is on ourselves to look after our households and work places to ensure everyone in our surroundings is safe from CO poisoning and to test our carbon monoxide alarms

coalarm

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Awareness While Camping

Carbon monoxide detection around the home is something we should all be aware of but we also need to think about CO poisoning when we are on a camping trip. The article below highlights the need for awareness at all times. Most, if not all death from carbon monoxide could have been avoided and this is another one of those cases. The long term effects of poisoning is devasting, check out this link.

 

VERNONIA, Ore. (KOIN) — Camping season is upon us and one Oregon woman is helping raise awareness about a silent killer that left her partner dead in his RV.

Elana Brasure says her partner Daryl was the family’s rock.

“We met in the 6th grade,” Brasure told KOIN 6 News. “I paid 25 cents to kiss him and we wound up being true love, soulmates. He raised all 4 of my children as his own.”

He was also a big part of his step-grandkids’ lives. He used to take them camping in the same RV he used for a weekend of 4-wheeling with friends at Nicolai Mountain.

“He just never came home,” Brasure said.
Daryl said goodnight to his friends and climbed into the camper on a cold February night during the trip. He cranked on the furnace and went to sleep.

His best friend found him the next morning.

“We’d been in that motor home a zillion times,” Brasure said.

The family didn’t know the tasteless, odorless gas carbon monoxide killed Daryl until receiving the medical examiner’s report. Brasure says she wasn’t aware of carbon monoxide’s fatal risks and that a detector might have saved her partner’s life.

This article was originally published here.

 

Unfortunately, this is not the only case of carbon monoxide poisoning occuring while camping. There are numerous cases and below is another that resulted in tragedy. This story also mentions the great campaign Say No To CO which helps raise awareness and you can learn more about CO at this RSS Feed.

Loose Women speak to the man who lost his partner in a carbon monoxide camping tragedy
Tragedy struck campers Roland Wessling and Hazel Woodhams who lost her life due to CO poisoning inside her tent
Forensic scientist Roland Wessling appeared on Loose Women to warn about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning after his partner, Hazel Woodhams, tragically lost her life.

He expressed his support for the show’s carbon monoxide awareness campaign Say No To CO.

Roland told of his camping trip to Great Yarmouth with Hazel and how after they had finished with their coal barbecue and let it go cold that it was perfectly safe to bring into the tent to keep it dry.

But unfortunately the carbon monoxide from the barbecue inside the tent caused Hazel’s death.
Roland said of the tragic accident: “How I survived is completely unknown. Yeah a miracle to be honest… No medical person could understand how I survived this and Hazel didn’t, especially because Hazel was probably dead within 5-10 minutes.”

He described how he woke up dazed and sick: “It took me a very long time to regain consciousness properly and as soon as I was conscious enough to understand there was something seriously wrong.

“I turned around and I was only lying half inside my sleeping bag and I must have tried to get out at some point in the night but I’ve got no recollection and Hazel was just an arm length away from me and she was dead.”

Read the full story here
Carbon monoxide is lethal and we will only stop these deaths through awareness. Taking a carbon monoxide alarm on camping trips is a great idea and will alert when there is a danger and will help to save lives, a lot of information can be read here.

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CO Facts And Advice

The following article has some great advice about carbon monoxide and some facts everyone should know. This is aimed at student but I think it is an article everyone can benefit from. You can learn more about carbon monoxide from our about.me page.

What is Carbon Monoxide and how dangerous is it? As part of The National Student’s Advice Week, npower brings you the facts.

What is Carbon Monoxide – and what are its dangers?

1. Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a gas – it can be very dangerous to your health and can be fatal. It is sometimes referred to as the silent killer because it has no smell, taste or colour, which makes it difficult to detect.

2. CO is produced when fuels such as gas, oil, coal or wood do not burn fully.

3. When you breath in CO, it enters your bloodstream and mixes with haemoglobin (the part of red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body), to form carboxyhaemoglobin. This stops your blood from being able to carry oxygen which causes the body’s cells and tissue to die.

4.Every year in the UK around 200 people are admitted to hospital with suspected CO poisoning, leading to around 40 deaths.

5. Around 10-15% of people who suffer from severe or life-threatening CO poisoning develop long-term complications, such as damage to the brain or the heart.

How do you know if you’re suffering from Carbon Monoxide poisoning?

6. Initial symptoms of CO poisoning can be similar to flu, but without a fever and sometimes, can be confused with food poisoning.

7. The most common symptoms include: dizziness, headaches, nausea and vomiting, tiredness and confusion, stomach pain, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.

What causes Carbon Monoxide to leak?

8. The most common causes are incorrectly installed, poorly maintained or poorly ventilated household appliances like fires (if the chimney or flue is blocked), cookers, heaters and central heating boilers.

Who is most at risk?

9. ‘High risk’ groups include the elderly, children, pregnant women and people with respiratory problems or chronic heart disease.

10. It is now a legal requirement for private landlords to fit a CO alarm in rooms used as living accommodation which also contain an appliance that burns, or is capable of burning solid fuel. Although there is no requirement to fit one near a gas boiler, it is still advisable as best practice.

How can you protect yourself from Carbon Monoxide poisoning in the home?

11. Install a Carbon Monoxide alarm near appliances that are capable of producing CO.

12. Look out for other tell-tale signs like:

13. Black, sooty marks on the front covers of gas fires, or sooty marks on the walls near boilers, stoves or fires

14. Smoke building up in rooms because of a faulty flue or blocked chimney

15. Gas appliances producing yellow flames instead of blue ones

16. Ensure all appliances are installed and regularly serviced by registered engineers.

17. If you have a chimney, make sure it is swept regularly by a qualified sweep.

Read more at the original article here.

These are all great facts about carbon monoxide and contain some great tips that we should all be on the look out for. The obvious thing to do is install a carbon monoxide alarm and make sure our fuel burning appliances are properly serviced yearly by a professional.

Of course, even without a carbon monoxide detector, some people can get lucky by speaking to the right person, see below.

NHS call handler saved my life after I was poisoned by carbon monoxide
An actress has told how how a quick-thinking NHS call handler saved her life after alerting emergency services to a carbon monoxide leak in her home.

Jaynie Powsney, 29, called the NHS 111 line after experiencing dizzy spells, headaches, diarrhoea and a stomach ache for around a month.

And after suspecting her symptoms were due to the poisonous gas, dubbed the ‘silent killer’, the call handler dispatched an ambulance, fire crews, the National Grid and environmental protection to her home off Argyle Street, Heywood .

Jaynie said: “A fire engine arrived and we were told there were three more on the way.

“It was frightening. I felt silly at the time because I thought it was a tummy bug.

“The paramedics were certain it was carbon monoxide poisoning.

“They wanted to take me to hospital, but because we’d had the windows open some of the carbon monoxide in my system had passed.

Further reading where first published.

This person had a very lucky escape and luckily the call handler recognised some of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning but some people do not get so lucky. Further news stories at this carbon monoxide news feed.

This post can be seen at ccmd

Estate agent recommends installing the warning devices as the safety of tenants should be ‘utmost priority’

The following article is about having carbon monoxide devices installed in rented properties. It has been the law since the beginning of October 2015 to have an alarm fitted in a rented property by the landlord if it contains a solid fuel burning appliance. There is a belief that a room sealed boiler gas boiler cannot cause harm by carbon monoxide poisoning but this is false. Even room sealed boilers can leak carbon monoxide if there is a fault. Read the following carbon monoxide articles to find out more.
Estate agent recommends installing the warning devices as the safety of tenants should be ‘utmost priority’

Dawn says if you have a gas boiler, as well as having it regularly checked, you should fit a carbon monoxide alarm

I want to raise awareness of the need for landlords to fit carbon monoxide alarms in their properties if they have a gas boiler or appliances fitted. Private sector landlords have been required by law since October 1, 2015, to have an alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance – that could be a coal fire or a wood burning stove.

Given most apartments in Canary Wharf with gas do not have such appliances, the need for the CO sensors has not been seen as a must, rather as a personal choice.

While some of my more cautious and responsible landlords have fitted them as standard, others have chosen to save their pennies, given it’s not a requirement.

However, following a recent incident I would urge any landlord that has gas and does not have one to have one fitted to do so as soon as possible.

Responding to an emergency call-out late one evening my contractor attended one of my managed properties that had a CO alarm fitted as it had gone off.

On arrival there was a strong smell of gas and it was apparent the boiler was leaking.

The contractor shut this down immediately and refused to turn it back on. The landlord was notified and a new boiler was fitted the next day.

The point of sharing this story with you is there were no solid fuel burner at this property so, had there been no CO alarm, the results could have been tragic.

Being a landlord brings with it a huge responsibility and the safety of your tenants has to be the utmost priority.

Source of article and further reading here.

conojoke

An interested article that should give a wake up call to landlords to always install a carbon monoxide detector. However, as we can see from the news story below, just having an alarm isn’t always enough. They also should be checked on a regular basis. The article below is one of a tragedy that could have been avoided.
The young girl hospitalized last week from carbon monoxide exposure in her home, which had killed her brother, is recovering and responding to treatment, according to the girl’s mother who spoke at a vigil held for her son Saturday evening.
Crowd gathers at vigil for third-grader killed by carbon monoxide fumes At St. Mark’s Park on Essex Avenue, in Linden, on Saturday, May 7, 2016, roughly 250 people gathered at a vigil for Oshiobugie Asekomhe, the 9-year-old boy who was killed by carbon monoxide exposure in his home earlier in the week. (Spencer Kent |…

At St. Mark’s Park on Essex Avenue, roughly 250 people gathered at the vigil for Oshiobugie Asekomhe, the 9-year-old boy who was killed from carbon monoxide exposure in his home on Tuesday.

His mother, Sepiatu Abu, 45, said her daughter, 11-year-old Emike Asekomhe, was still in the hospital, but was responding to treatment.

Abu, who was with her two sisters, arrived toward the end of the vigil, and with tears running down her face, she thanked everyone for their support.

“Right now my daughter is doing very good … compared to when the incident happened, said Sepiatu Abu, 45, of Linden. “She’s doing much better.”

She added, “She’s responding good to treatment.”

During the vigil, the crowd stood in a semi-circle on the basketball court at the park, and while holding lit candles, they prayed, and then collectively sang Amazing Grace.

The crowd included local officials, including the mayor, along with police officers, firefighters, school officials, members of the community, and some of Oshiobugie’s teachers and classmates at School No. 4, where teachers said he excelled.

People were crying, hugging, and trying to reconcile the shock of losing such a beloved boy in the community.

Linden will hold a vigil Saturday for the 9-year-old youth who died from carbon monoxide in his home Tuesday

“So happy to see everybody out here to support us. I really appreciate each and every one of them. Because my son, Oshiobugie, really was a good kid. He was a very loving child, intelligent, easy going, and I pray God keeps him in a better place.”

At around 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday Abu called police and said her children were unresponsive, police said in a previous report. Abu, according to officials, had tried CPR on both children. Oshiobugie was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

High levels of carbon monoxide were found in the home. Though there was a CO detector, the batteries were no longer functional, the report said. The house is uninhabitable, according to the report.

Read more by viewing the original article here.

A very sad story and one that is difficult to read. Our thoughts go out to the mother and family of the children involved and we hope that with more education, these stories become a thing of the past. Visit the CO gas resource page for further help.

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Alarms rescue families

Further carbon monoxide alerts occured in the Devon and Cornwall area of the country. Our first story happened near the town of Helston in Cornwall where a carbon monoxide alarm potentially saved the lives of a family. This should be a wake up call to use all to have any kind of CO monitor, learn more about them here.

A FAMILY gassed last night by deadly fumes said they might have died without their carbon monoxide alarms.

They said smoke and gas from a coal-fired kitchen range had seeped unto their 6-year-old daughter’s bedroom and was filling the house.
Her dad Gavin Potter said: “We would all be dead in the morning if it wasn’t for the alarms.

“I might have gone in the morning and found my youngest dead – or none of us would have woken up at all.

“It’s a frightening thought – but that’s what we’ve been thinking all morning.

“I am over the moon that we’re all okay.”

The family with four children aged between 6 and 16 went to bed last night at their mid-terrace cottage in Farms Common, a hamlet in Wendron parish near Helston.

Read more at the original source
Around the same time in Devon a carbon monoxide detector was activated, once again potentially saving the life of the elderly resident, read the story –
Elderly woman rescued after carbon monoxide leak in Devon

Firefighters had to rescue an elderly woman from a property in Devon after a carbon monoxide alarm activated late on Monday night.

Just before 11pm crews were sent to Sparkwell Lane, Staverton.

Two fire appliance from Buckfastleigh and Ashburton were sent to a report of a domestic alarm activating in a property.

Upon arrival crews confirmed it was a carbon monoxide alarm and they removed an elderly woman from the building.

First published at this source
Both households luckily had installed a carbon monoxide alarm which alerted them to the presence of the gas. Without one installed, these reports could have been ones of tragedy than rescue.

Alarms rescue families
can be read at this site

The Silent Killer

On Tuesday the funeral will be held of a man who died from CO poisoning. This deadly gas can strike at any time causing many health problems and as you can see from the article below, unfortunate deaths.

THE funeral will take place on Tuesday of a man who died from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning at his home in Co Down.

Grandfather-of-two William Stockdale (60) was found dead at his house on the Castlewellan Road in Newcastle on Friday evening.

A post-mortem examination to determine the cause of death has been carried out, but the results are not yet known.

The death comes just over a year since a married couple in their seventies, Francis and Nan O’Reilly, were found dead in their caravan on the Tullybrannigan Road in Newcastle.

Mr Stockdale, who came from a farming background, was a long-term resident of Newcastle.

Four ambulance crews attended the scene on Friday night, with three other people in the property and two paramedics also treated in the Ulster Hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning. They were later discharged.

It is understood Mr Stockdale had been recovering at home after having stents inserted in his heart, and had initially believed the chest pain and discomfort he was experiencing was due to the operation.

John McPoland, from the Ambulance Service, described the actions of paramedics at Mr Stockdale’s home as “unbelievable”.

He said: “They undoubtedly saved the lives of themselves and three other people. More remarkable than all that, after they were discharged from hospital they reported back to the station to fulfil the rest of their duties.”

Read more of this news article from the original publication.

bewareofco
These reports are a regular occurance throughout this country with many more around the world. Carbon monoxide needs to be understood be everyone, so let us learn more about this silent killer.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, colorless gas with nearly the same molar mass as air (CO is 3% lighter on average). This means that CO doesn’t rise or fall, but disperses evenly into the air of an enclosed space. That’s why detectors can be placed low on a wall at an outlet, or high up on a ceiling. The gas is toxic to humans at concentrations above 35 Parts Per Millions (PPM). Because of this, carbon monoxide has been dubbed the silent killer. We’ve all heard not to use a kitchen stove as a heating appliance, or not to run a generator inside the house. The reason is carbon monoxide.

The American Center for Disease Control has stated that unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning accounts for over 20,000 emergency room visits each year, including over 400 deaths. Carbon monoxide poisoning starts with a headache. It progresses to dizziness, nausea, and general flu-like symptoms. Most people think they’re just coming down with the flu, and head to bed. This is often a fatal mistake.
Biology
Carboxyhemoglobin molecule, by Rifleman 82 via Wikipedia
Carboxyhemoglobin molecule, by Rifleman 82 via Wikipedia

Carbon monoxide can always be found in small amounts in the human body. The molecule is known to have some therapeutic anti-inflammatory effects in humans. At higher concentrations though, CO becomes incredibly toxic. The most frightening part about carbon monoxide poisoning is the method in which it operates. Hemoglobin is the molecule in red blood cells which carries oxygen. Hemoglobin loads up with oxygen in the lungs, becoming oxyhemoglobin. The circulatory system then carries this oxyhemoglobin throughout the body, where it delivers its payload to muscles and organs. Carbon monoxide also bonds to hemoglobin, creating carboxyhemoglobin. In fact, the bond is over 200 times stronger than oxygen. This means carboxyhemoglobin doesn’t separate so easily. The carboxyhemoglobin essentially becomes an inert molecule riding through the circulatory system, starving the organs of oxygen.

This is where things get nasty.

Everyone knows that the treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning is to get to fresh air. However, it won’t immediately remove carboxyhemoglobin from the blood. That takes time. Carboxyhemoglobin has a half-life of 4 to 6 hours. There is a way to speed things up though. Administering pure oxygen to a victim can reduce the half-life down to less than an hour.

In extreme cases, hyperbaric oxygen treatments are used. The victim is placed into a pure oxygen chamber pressurized to three atmospheres. This forces oxygen to diffuse into the blood plasma, where it is carried to starved tissues.
neuron
Structure of a neuron, by Quasar Jarosz via Wikipedia

For acute poisoning patients, surviving the initial episode doesn’t mean the worst is over. Many patients begin to make a recovery, but between 2 and 40 days later, things change. The patients rapidly show signs of further brain damage. Balance, memory, and cognitive functions all affected. This phenomenon is called delayed neuropsychologic sequelae, and it was devastating for Molly Weber. The mechanism of neuropsychologic sequelae is still not completely understood. Research has shown that carbon monoxide damages Myelin Basic Protein (MBP), the material which surrounds nerve cells. The damaged MBP triggers the body’s immune system. White blood cells called leukocytes attack and remove the damaged MBP. The leukocytes don’t stop there though. They begin to attack healthy MBP, destroying healthy brain tissue. The result of this biological one-two punch leaves permanent brain injuries that can take years to recover – if recovery is possible at all.

In researching this article I was reminded how little we know about the brain, how it can be injured and how it recovers from those injuries. If there is one place where bio-hackers can really make a huge difference, it’s in studying and trying to understand how all this works.
Environment

Carbon monoxide is created by several different methods. Volcanoes and other geological sources release carbon monoxide into the atmosphere, as do forest fires. The major contributor though is man. Satellites such as NASA’s Terra spacecraft keep an eye on carbon monoxide in the atmosphere. Streaks are often found over cities and where crop residue and forests are being burned.

The chief way CO is created is through incomplete combustion of carbon-based fuels. If there isn’t enough oxygen present to oxidize a fuel to CO2, CO is the result. Internal combustion engines produce huge amounts of carbon monoxide. A properly tuned gasoline engine can produce as much as 30,000 ppm CO. In the United States, gasoline and diesel vehicles produced after 1975 have catalytic converters which greatly reduce CO emissions. However, not all vehicles are well maintained. Every year deaths are reported from people sitting in idling cars with faulty exhaust systems.

Small engines such as generators and power washers don’t tend to have catalytic converters, yet they still produce large amounts of carbon monoxide. Generators running inside homes kill families every year. Even running a power washer in a semi-enclosed space such as a parking garage is enough for the gas to build up to dangerous levels.

In the home, most carbon monoxide poisoning events happen due to problems with gas-fired appliances. A properly tuned water heater, boiler, or furnace will create some CO. If the air band isn’t correctly adjusted, CO levels rise. If the exhaust becomes blocked or compromised, the CO will find its way into the living spaces. Just in the last week, a home in Oklahoma filled with CO when roofers blocked the water heater exhaust stack. Thankfully, the family had a carbon monoxide detector in their home, and nobody was injured.

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Carbon monoxide injuries and deaths can be avoided with a carbon monoxide alarm fitted into the home or work areas. They will alert before the gas levels become too dangerous and while deaths and injuries continue to occur, we must all continue to spread the word about what it can do. Knowledge is the key and with knowledge, everyone is more likely to get some kind of alerting device. You can learn more about carbon monoxide here.

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