Inhaling and exhaling carbon monoxide
Inhaling and exhaling carbon monoxide

The Carbon Monoxide+ Impact project (co+Impact) is a two-year study funded by the Gas Safety Trust. It is attempting to understand the true numbers of individuals that are affected by carbon monoxide poisoning in everyday life, and Identify areas for future research.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is dangerous; it can kill lead to long-term health problems and brain damage. To reduce the risk to the public the true impact needs to be understood.

CO is a poisonous gas produced when fuels (such as gas, coal and wood) are burnt. If this is done in an enclosed area, the gas causes nausea and headaches at low levels and can lead to coma and death in high level cases. CO poisoning has many complex and nonspecific symptoms often mimicking a common cold or other conditions; this makes it hard to diagnose. Dubbed ‘the silent killer’, carbon monoxide is tasteless, colourless, odourless and undetectable unless a CO alarm is present. It is currently suggested that approximately 2,000 people a year in the UK are poisoned by CO every year but this is believed to be a gross underestimate due to the difficulty in detecting CO poisoning.

The co+ Impact project, which started in August, collates and reviews information in the UK on carbon monoxide and other toxins. The project will look at CO poisoning in a number of environments such as the home, work and leisure activities such as caravans, tents and boats. As well as a final report, the project will identify areas lacking in understanding and aims to produce project proposals for specific areas to research in the future.

“This piece of work is something that the Gas Safety Trust has been looking to commission for some time. I am delighted to be working in partnership with Cranfield University. The identification of the key gaps in what is understood about carbon monoxide will allow the Gas Safety Trust to focus its resources in the areas in which it will have the greatest impact.

I am optimistic that the output of this activity will be of great benefit to everyone who is committed to reducing carbon monoxide related injury and fatalities."

Chris Bielby, Gas Safety Trust Chairman.

The data utilised in this research is also entered into a database or ‘portal’ currently being created by the Gas Safety Trust for future research. Other information will also be available from posters to films, all of which relate to carbon monoxide. This will increase the speed and ease of future research by providing a place where all background information will be accessible.

The co+ Impact project is part of two wider Cranfield University Initiative; CORE (the carbon monoxide risk reduction research project) and Cranfield University’s carbon monoxide response (CU-CO⁺), which are attempting to reduce the dangers associated with carbon monoxide through a number of collaborative research projects.

Jessica Bolton, the co+Impact researcher, would like to encourage anyone who has got any CO⁺ related data or information to contact her on carbon.monoxide@cranfield.ac.uk. The more information goes into the research, the better our understanding of CO⁺ related issues and the more lives we can save in future.


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