Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas with no color or odor. It is produced by incomplete combustion of carbon-containing fuels, such as gas, coal and wood. Breathing it in can make you experience headache, fatigue and nausea, and it can kill if you’re exposed to high concentrations of it. It is also called the “silent killer”.
When carbon monoxide is breathed in, it enters the bloodstream and binds to hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the body’s tissues. Carbon monoxide has a greater affinity for hemoglobin than oxygen does, so it displaces oxygen quickly. As a result, fewer oxygen is delivered to body’s cells, which leads the tissues to fail and die.