Did you know that the most common type of poisoning in Japan is carbon monoxide poisoning?
What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is released when people burn carbon-based fuels. Such fuels include wood, kerosene (灯油), and charcoal. Carbon monoxide is released in greater amounts when fuel is incompletely burned. If you see a bright yellow or green flame in your kerosene heater, there is a chance that CO is being released. Modern stoves should burn blue at the base of the flame when working properly.
What does carbon monoxide do?
Carbon monoxide bonds to hemoglobin in human blood, robbing your body of its ability to get enough oxygen. CO is so strongly affinitive to hemoglobin that even a small amount in the lungs can have a big effect. For example, a CO concentration of just 0.1% can reduce the oxygen level in your blood by 50%! Even a small amount of CO is quite dangerous. Extended exposure to CO can cause headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and even death.
What should I do if I think I have been poisoned?
First, go outside and get fresh air immediately. If you feel very sick, call an ambulance or go to a hospital as soon as you can. Doctors will be able to check your blood for signs of CO poisoning, and help you to recover. If you find a person who is unconscious and you suspect CO poisoning, call an ambulance immediately.
How can I prevent CO poisoning?
The best way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is to avoid using stoves etc. that burn carbon based fuel inside your home. You should always make sure to get fresh air into any room where you are using such a stove, and buy a carbon monoxide detector to place in your home, especially if you use a kerosene heater in a room where you sleep. These detectors are cheap and can be found online or at many home centers.
See this webpage for more information about carbon monoxide safety:
I hope everyone can be safe and free from the dangers of carbon monoxide.