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How are we affected by carbon monoxide? Why does it kill us?

2 doctors weighed in
Dr. Troy Ross
Occupational Medicine
1 doctor agrees

In brief: Impairs O2 use

Carbon monoxide does damage by binding to red blood cells, causing them to not be able to carry oxygen.
It happens as soon as the CO contacts the blood and it will stay attached to the hemoglobin in the blood for many hours. It is reversed much faster when the person is treated by breathing 100% oxygen. It's normal to have a little CO in the blood - smokers have up to 15% (40% is lethal)

In brief: Impairs O2 use

Carbon monoxide does damage by binding to red blood cells, causing them to not be able to carry oxygen.
It happens as soon as the CO contacts the blood and it will stay attached to the hemoglobin in the blood for many hours. It is reversed much faster when the person is treated by breathing 100% oxygen. It's normal to have a little CO in the blood - smokers have up to 15% (40% is lethal)
Dr. Troy Ross
Dr. Troy Ross
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