monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas which cannot be detected
by the senses. It is often produced as a side effect of imperfect
combustion, and will accumulate in closed areas. For example,
a car left running in a closed garage or the operation of a
gas heater in a closed basement can result in toxic levels of
Inhalation of CO (small amounts over a long time or large amounts
over a short time) can cause carbon monoxide poisoning: Carbon
monoxide binds to hemoglobin molecules
in the blood,
preventing these molecules from carrying oxygen to the cells
of the body. Oxygen deprivation, known as hypoxia,
Symptoms of CO poisoning include difficulty breathing, pinker-than-normal
skin, dizziness, dilated pupils, weakness, and unconsciousness.
If CO exposure continues, death or brain damage may result.
In mild cases, a victim of CO poisoning may recover when exposed
to fresh air. In more severe cases, victims may require administration
of oxygen. Long-term effects of CO poisoning may include various
kinds of paralysis, motor complaints, and memory problems including
Further reading: "Gas Attack"
by Catherine E. Myers. Copyright © 2006 Memory Loss and the Brain