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Carbon Monoxide chemical compound of carbon and oxygen with the formula CO It is a colorless odorless gas about 3 percent lighter than air and is poisonous to all warm-blooded animals and to many other forms of life When inhaled it combines with hemoglobin in the blood preventing absorption of oxygen and resulting in asphyxiation Carbon monoxide is formed whenever carbon or substances containing carbon are burned with an insufficient air supply Even when the amount of air is theoretically sufficient the reaction is not always complete so that the combustion gases contain some free oxygen and some carbon monoxide An incomplete reaction is especially probable when it takes place quickly as in an automobile engine for this reason automobile-exhaust gases contain harmful quantities of carbon monoxide sometimes several percent although antipollution devices are intended to keep the level below 1 percent As little as 11000 of 1 percent of carbon monoxide in air may produce symptoms of poisoning and as little as 15 of 1 percent may prove fatal in less than 30 min Carbon monoxide is a major ingredient of the air pollution in urban areas Because it is odorless carbon monoxide is an insidious poison It produces only mild symptoms of headache nausea or fatigue followed by unconsciousness An automobile engine running in a closed garage can make the air noxious within a few minutes a leaking furnace flue may fill a house with unsuspected poison Fuel gas which may contain as much as 50 percent carbon monoxide often has small quantities of unpleasant-smelling sulfur compounds purposely added to make leaks noticeable Carbon monoxide is an important industrial fuel because it contains more than two-thirds of the heating value of the carbon from which it was formed It is a constituent of water gas producer gas blast furnace gas and coal gas In smelting iron ore carbon monoxide formed from coke used in the process acts as a
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