Carbon Monoxide as a Chemical Hazard in the Workplace

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Chemicals can be in solid, liquid, or gaseous state that can cause physical and health hazards for those involved in the production, storage, handling, and disposal of the materials. By-products are equally dangerous depending on the type and concentration of the chemical involved. Although the workers are informed about the dangers related to different chemicals, still accidents do take place. This is because people are generally either not aware of the dangers of different chemicals or are simply careless to read about them. Ignorance can cause fatalities which can be prevented if necessary precautions are taken. Carbon Monoxide (CO) is one such chemical that can lead a person to his death. My interest in this chemical grew at the time when I read about it in the local newspaper. Eight workers and four firemen at the Eglinton station were given medical aid due to exposure to Carbon monoxide. This was the first time I became aware of the danger of exposure to this chemical. The TTC Union expressed their concern about the long term health effects of carbon monoxide on the exposed workers.The Praxair Safety data sheet on Carbon monoxide (2004) gives us detailed information about the chemical. According to which Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless and is formed when carbon in the fuel is not properly burned. It has been termed as an inorganic compound. Carbon monoxide is toxic and cannot be seen due to which it can lead a person to his death. It is, for this reason, it has been termed as a silent killer. On burning it produces a violet flame. It is soluble in alcohol and benzene and is slightly soluble in water. The boiling point of Carbon monoxide has been noted at – 190°C and the solidification point at -207° C. In liquid form the autoignition temperature of carbon monoxide is 1128° F and the specific gravity and the specific volume are 0.96716 and 13.8 cu ft/lb respectively. It does have an odor once it is mixed with some other gases.