Carbon Monoxide (CO)
CO (kolmonoxid), Kolmonoxid (Koloxid)
Carbon monoxide (CO)
Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless and poisonous gas that is highly flammable and may form explosive mixtures with air1 2 3 4.
Carbon monoxide is formed by incomplete combustion and the gas may be recycled and reused as fuel. Within the chemical industry, carbon monoxide is used in production of a number of different chemicals, such as acids, esters and alcohols5. Carbon monoxide is an effective reducing agent that is used in the metal industry during production of pig iron6. Consumer-available products do not contain carbon monoxide, however carbon monoxide may be formed when using or operating products, e.g. vehicles, tobacco, chain saws, lawn mowers, coal and wood fired barbeques7.
Sources and transportation pathways
Carbon monoxide is formed by incomplete combustion of carbon-based fuels.8 Carbon monoxide is emitted to the atmosphere from natural and anthropogenic sources. Examples of natural sources are natural gas, volcanic activity, forest fires and during lightning9 10. The main part of anthropogenic emissions in Sweden comes from transports, working machinery and heating of buildings11. Of the large point sources, the metal industry and the pulp and paper industry are the largest contributors to national emissions12.
Effects on environment and health
Carbon monoxide is absorbed in the lungs of humans and animals and by binding strongly to the haemoglobin in the blood it inhibits the body’s uptake of oxygen13 14. Headache, dizziness, fatigue, daze, nausea, vomiting and unconsciousness may be symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning15. High concentration of carbon monoxide in ambient air may result in symptoms of angina in persons with heart conditions16.
International agreements and regulations
Carbon monoxide is regulated by the UN Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as well as by the EU Air Quality Directive (2008/50/EC) and the EU Industrial Emissions Directive (2010/75/EU). The UN Protocol on PRTRs and the EU E-PRTR regulation regulate how data on carbon monoxide emissions is made available.