This air is killing your blood

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Bhartendu Prakash Trivedi

Lucknow: Apart from PM2.5 and PM10, “Carbon Monoxide (CO)” is the third common pollutant and it is omnipresent in the northern part of India, especially in Lucknow.

A normal human being can bear up to 9 PPM Carbon Monoxide in the air. However, it is currently 3 times higher than the normal level and sometimes more than that. Do you know about the effects CO can have on your body ? It directly affects the blood’s capacity to transfer oxygen to various organs of the body.

What is haemoglobin?

Haemoglobin is a protein in your red blood cells, which binds oxygen in your lungs, and distributes that oxygen throughout your body. Haemoglobin has a very high affinity for oxygen but a HIGHER affinity for CO. 

Four seats of Oxygen

Red blood cells are only cells in your body without nuclei. There is no centre, they are just little bags of Haemoglobin. Haemoglobin molecules are little oxygen carriers. Each molecule has four “seats” that can be filled with oxygen. They can pick up oxygen in your lungs and deliver it all over your body. Every cell needs a supply of oxygen.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is very dangerous because it sticks to your haemoglobin better than oxygen does. It “hogs the seats” so that oxygen can’t get a ride. And those CO molecules keep riding around, never giving their seats up to the oxygen. This means there’s no way to get oxygen to your brain, heart, or other cells and those cells start to die. You can’t see, smell, or taste CO, so it’s very dangerous.

CO concentration in the blood remains unnoticed

Unless the CO is more than 2.5% in the haemoglobin and until it shows certain health effects it remains unnoticed. It can be noticed only at very high concentrations of carbon monoxide, up to 40% of the haemoglobin can be bound to carbon monoxide in this way. This level will certainly kill you.

Symptoms that your blood has an increased CO level

For healthy people, the most likely impact of a small increase in the level of carbon monoxide is that they will have trouble concentrating. Some people might become a bit clumsy as their coordination is affected, and they could get tired more easily.

People with heart problems are likely to suffer from more frequent and longer angina attacks, and they would be at greater risk of heart attack. Children and unborn babies are particularly at risk because they are smaller and their bodies are still growing and developing.

How is CO produced

CO is produced through the incomplete combustion of carbon-containing fuels, such as gasoline, natural gas, oil, coal, and wood. So stop burning garbage with full of polythene and send your vehicles for servicing punctually.

What doctors from Lucknow say: 

Dr. Rajeev Lochan, director of Balrampur Hospital, says that due to the presence of carbon monoxide in the air, pain in a headache, heart problem and muscle starts, which is quite rational for health. He said that in order to prevent pollution, we should first reduce the use of diesel driven vehicles. The use of electronic vehicles should be promoted such as Metro, e-Riksha etc. There is a need to plant more and more trees in order to safeguard human life and the environment.

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