Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Plots in Use:

Commonly used relationship of carbon monoxide concentration (ppm) and duration (hours) of exposure on COHb saturation and presumed physiological effects.

Can you tell what is wrong with these plots?
  • The correlation between COHb saturation and physical symptoms is a very poor one, ie. the reliable pegging of stepwise changes in symptoms to COHb saturation is not possible. This is widely recognized by most CO experts. Like other plots of its type, this one fails to represent real data as it exists in the literature and highly oversimplifies the relationship between COHb and toxicity.
  • It indicates that death is caused by exposure to less than 200 ppm CO for 7-8 hours. In sedentary individuals, COHb would only have increased to approx. 20% in that period of time, not nearly enough to kill the average healthy human adult (the steady-state COHb at this CO conc. is less than 22%).

    ...... last changed 03/19/01

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