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Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a natural by-product of the various reactions that take place inside our body. Exposure to high levels of carbon dioxide can increase the amount of this gas in the blood and result in carbon dioxide poisoning. People working or living in conditions that do not have proper air circulation need to be aware of carbon dioxide poisoning and its symptoms. Carbon dioxide is toxic in higher concentrations (1% or 10,000 ppm) and will make some people feel drowsy. Concentrations of 7 to 10 percent cause dizziness, headache, visual and hearing dysfunction and unconsciousness within a few minutes to an hour.

Causes of CO2 poisoning include:

  • Re-breathing exhaled air due to conditions like sleeping in air tight tents 
  • Working in confined areas that have poor air circulation 
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Gas water heaters
  • Charcoal grills
  • Diesel or gasoline powered generators  

Symptoms of CO2 poisoning include:

  • Muscle twitching
  • Reduced neural activity
  • Flushed skin
  • High blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Lethargy
  • Elevated rate of cardiac output
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Panic
  • Convulsions
  • Chest pain
  • Hallucinations
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Seizures
  • Memory problems
  • Changes in vision
  • Unconsciousness

Treatment: Remove the person from the toxic environment  and move them to an area with fresh air. Ensure that the patient has enough amount of oxygen to breathe.

Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center Website