KU study calls for awareness of indoor sources of CO poisoning – Pakistan

KARACHI: Some 20% of kitchens surveyed in the central district had higher concentrations of carbon monoxide (CO), an odorless and colorless gas that can kill, according to a study recently published in the Pakistan Journal of Science.

The study “Carbon Monoxide Concentrations in Gas Burner Kitchens, Karachi, Pakistan” was conducted by Professor Zafar Iqbal Shams and his team at the Institute of Environmental Studies, University of Karachi (KU) .

The study examined carbon monoxide concentrations in the kitchens of middle-income residents residing in 54 bungalows and 25 apartments in the Central district

“While the study highlights an issue of public health significance, the results may not reflect what is happening on a larger scale in society,” Professor Shams explained, adding that the team did not was unable to expand its reach to low-income areas due to funds. ‘ shortage.

28,000 deaths, 40 million cases of respiratory diseases are reported annually due to indoor air pollutants in the country

People living in small, cluttered places, he said, were likely to be at greater risk of dangerous indoor pollution.

“Undetected or unsuspected exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to accidental deaths. It is one of the leading causes of poisoning morbidity and mortality in the Western world,” he said.

Citing the Murree tragedy which claimed dozens of lives earlier this year, Prof Shams said people died of carbon monoxide poisoning when they were left in cars with heaters on and are asleep. “In the United States, more than half of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning deaths are caused by motor vehicle exhaust, followed by household gas appliances.”

Study results

The survey showed that more than 80% of kitchens in bungalows and apartments met the World Health Organization (WHO) carbon monoxide guidelines for the maximum allowable time-weighted limit for one, eight and 24 hours of human exposure.

“However, carbon monoxide concentrations in some kitchens were significantly higher in both housing categories for all time-weighted categories.

“The higher levels of carbon monoxide in some kitchens may be due to their inadequate ventilation or contaminated outside air,” the study states.

He also points out that apartment kitchens had the highest eight-hour carbon monoxide concentration during evening hours, which may be due to greater fossil fuel-related commercial activity in and around apartments. , such as roadside restoration and higher vehicle emissions.

“Appropriate ventilation of kitchens can reduce their CO concentrations to meet exit guidelines from any health risk. Outdoor CO concentrations can be reduced by decreasing traffic congestion and restaurant activities around apartments,” suggests the ‘study.

He cites the 2006 World Bank report that 28,000 deaths and 40 million cases of respiratory disease are reported each year due to indoor air pollutants in Pakistan.

He refers to a 2008 study of indoor carbon monoxide and PM 2.5 concentrations (particles 2.5 micrometers or less) conducted in Rehri Goth, which demonstrated that women involved in biomass cooking were potentially vulnerable to exposure to high concentrations of CO and PM2. 5.

Carbon monoxide is found in the fumes produced anytime people burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas stoves or furnaces. It can build up indoors and poison people and animals that breathe it in.

According to experts, high concentrations of CO in the ambient air are dangerous because inhaled CO enters the bloodstream and reduces the amount of oxygen the blood can supply to body organs (such as the heart and brain) and to tissues. At extremely high levels, CO can cause death.

The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, stomach pain, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.

People who are sleeping or drunk can die from CO poisoning before they have symptoms.

Posted in Dawn, April 20, 2023