What if I told you that there was a colourless and odourless gas, that we may be exposed to every day that can cause fatigue, dizziness, nausea, headaches, or worst-case scenario, death?
This gas is carbon monoxide (CO). It can be toxic at high levels and long-term exposure can have a negative impact on human health.
CO is formed when a carbon fuel does not combust or burn fully. There are natural sources such as volcanoes and fires, plus human made sources that we are all exposed to such as:
- Vehicle emissions (contribute to most of the CO in the air)
- Household appliances, such as gas heaters
- Wood burners or fireplaces
- Gas stoves
- Water heaters
- Clothes dryers
CO can be dangerous as it attaches itself to haemoglobin, and in doing so restricts the amount of oxygen in our blood. Several deaths have recently occurred in Australia from CO poisoning due to faulty gas heaters. This lead to increased awareness of the dangers of CO and education to the community on maintaining safe gas heating in the home.
What can we do as a community?
The Australian Government has strategies in place to reduce carbon monoxide, which is a growing concern as the population booms. There are several actions we can all take to reduce carbon monoxide in our air such as:
- Choosing a fuel-efficient vehicle
- Ensure your vehicle is regularly serviced
- Smokey vehicle? – make sure you get it fixed!
- Ride a bike, walk or take public transport where possible
- Avoid using a wood heater at home, but if you do use small, dry and untreated logs
- Ensure all household appliances are in good working order
- Install a CO alarm on appliances
If we all pitch in as a community, we can reduce carbon monoxide emissions!
Contributed by Rebecca Webster