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FACT: We are breathing to die.

Having clean air to breathe is the prerequisite for being able to function well and live longer. But even this privilege that was so easy to have before is now under attack. Every step each man takes is now impossible without contributing to a nationwide problem dubbed as air pollution. Because breathing comes before our bread and butter, we fail to recognize that we are inhaling and exhaling 8,000-10,000 litres of air daily. The link between the perils of air pollution and the quality of air we take should be taken seriously.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that there are 2.4 million deaths that are attributed to air pollution. Any average adult is faced with a deluge of invisible killers in the form of gaseous pollutants that goes with heavy traffic, the inescapable industrial activities that are part and parcel of our daily grind.


While we usually equate air pollution to the outdoors and think that we are pretty much safer at home or in spaces with less automobiles or smoke from vents, we need to think again. There is a rise of indoor pollution from home products like paints and varnishes, fuels used for cooking, and car engine emissions seeping in from the outside. Diesel exhaust is a primary contributor to air pollution, so those living in highly urban areas are at greater risk.
Contrary to most gases that are detected by our noses, carbon monoxide makes its way unnoticed since it is tasteless, odourless and colourless. While there have been few cases of carbon monoxide poisoning, we must be reminded that it takes a few minutes to knock anyone off as it impairs the cognitive functioning of its unknowing victims. Long-term exposure to low concentration of carbon monoxide is reportedly associated with damage on the central nervous system that may lead to detrimental effects on behaviour and memory. On worst cases that involve high concentration of the said pollutant, chances of survival are slim, especially when the sufferers are elderly, children, or pregnant women. Reportedly, foetuses that are exposed to this gas have increased risk of incurring damage by 10 to 15%.


Studies revealed that tracing carbon monoxide poisoning is a feat on its own since the gas is impossible to detect by human standards. Though little is known about the nooks and crooks of the silent killer, it is one of the most common environmental hazard that is faced by the UK. From April 2010 to March 2011, there have been 222 lives that were lost because of the lack of awareness about the perils of carbon monoxide. The following infographic shows the detailed breakdown of the deaths brought about by carbon monoxide poisoning. The highest death recorded which totalled to 24 occurred on August 2010, while the lowest death with a total of 11 was in September of the same year. This location-based visual may guide the concerned parties from both the government as well as private institutions that advocate educating the public about carbon monoxide poisoning.


While 81% of citizens know very well that carbon monoxide can kill, the fact remains that about a staggering 35 million are still on great risk from the likelihood of suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. This makes the unsuspecting gas the most prevalent air pollutant to date. Various advocates and survivors have taken a stand to combat this unseen killer through the efforts exerted by the Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week. Citizens are called to look into properly ventilated homes to reduce the exposure to a wide variety of indoor pollutants. More importantly, there is already an established network of stations nationwide that monitor the quality of air which is backed up by the Clean Air Act. Learning the ropes of this cunning culprit is an essential step to be able to minimize, and eventually eliminate the detriments that carbon monoxide causes to our health.

Awareness is also aimed at medical practitioners who may take time to address carbon monoxide poisoning since its symptoms are very generic. 90% of victims had headache, while 50% experienced nausea and vomiting and/or vertigo. 30% dealt with alteration in consciousness, while 20% felt they are weakening. It is also because of these signs that carbon monoxide poisoning is often unrecognized, and eventually left unnoticed. The infographic below illustrates how carbon monoxide is ingested and how it affects our system.

CO Emission Infographic by Nationwide Home Innovations

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Winter makes carbon dioxide more notorious.

A Minnesota study revealed that an attached garage which houses only one car permits 5-85% of carbon dioxide together with other pollutants to enter and linger in any house during winter. Since houses are closed or sealed in a way, the chances of this gas to linger in the air are longer. More notably, more vehicles are ignited inside the garage on top of the fact that warming them up takes more time as compared to summer. Along with these, there is a relatively higher dose of carbon dioxide that is emitted by the vehicle in winter season. In fact, even fine-tuned engines produce an overwhelming amount of pollutants for the first minute or two as soon as it is ignited.


Thomas Greiner, an engineer from Iowa State University warns, “Don’t ever warm-up a car in a garage even with the garage door open. In less than two minutes gas fumes build to lethal concentration in the garage.”

Two minutes is much like a nuance –the time it takes for you to get a steaming cup of coffee or tea, the instance when you wait for your turn on the loo, the little yet irksome time for you to get on a lift, train, or bus, and the precious time you don’t want to miss whenever you’re down with your telly.

Two minutes is all it takes to bring you to a highly hazardous state that may kill you just because you have been too complacent, or too familiar with the deadly drill that goes with warming up your car in your garage.

Two minutes is all it takes to think better and act wiser, too.


Get the “garage act” together.

The next time you get to spend a bit more time in your garage, check if it is well-ventilated and does not allow the carbon monoxide to knock on your door. Cut the chase of your car’s carbon monoxide emission by taking the effort to bring it outside. It pays to get a motorized and manageable garage door that takes up the least space as well.

Remember, the culprit you and I are to face is lurking unknowingly, and getting in and out of our system cunningly. It only takes two minutes to make that move to combat the hazards brought about by carbon monoxide poisoning. Make the best move for you and your loved ones in time for the Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week now.

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Home Improvement Hobbyist, Writer and an in-house Content Manager at Nationwide Home Innovations Ltd. Let's connect via Google+

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