The Silent Killer – Carbon Monoxide (Co)

In the diving hazards section, we talked about the diseases and injuries that divers face while diving. The injuries were determined and categorized into two types. The first type is due to external influences such as injuries caused by marine organisms or stings from toxic organisms or attacks of other beings, and the second type is a physiological one due to the lack of restriction of systems and ignoring the use of diving tables and what is provided by diving rules and equations of adapting the bodies with pressure in the depth.


Today, through our discussion of this article, we will talk about another type of injury that afflicts the diver due to indifference or due to negligence and lack of concern for safety and safety details, and we will prove this through our clarification of serious and fatal injuries due to carbon monoxide gas that will explain everything related to this deadly poison and how it infects the diver.

Carbon Monoxide Co is a gas that is tasteless, odorless, colorless, and difficult to detect easily, so it is called a silent killer.


Carbon monoxide is formed from an incomplete combustion process of organic materials, why an incomplete process?  to incomplete combustion triangle and a lack of oxygen ribs that can, in turn, convert it to the non-lethal CO2 gas. Our killer gas works to get rid of the oxygen in the body of the organisms after inhalation and it is a gas that is closely related to the hemoglobin process in the organisms that use this compound in their bodies, so it is neither dangerous nor fatal to other organisms such as plants, as they depend on the photosynthetic compound or the chlorophyll, depending on what It was mentioned in biology books that explained the photosynthesis process and explained its scientific dimensions, and by observing the plants that were exposed to carbon monoxide gas in certain areas where humans were affected and the plants were protected from being infected or affected by this toxic gas for us.


How is this toxic gas formed and what are its sources?

Carbon monoxide sources include cigarette smoke, coal mine fires, generators, home heaters, wood stoves, car exhausts, and for us as divers, what we are particularly interested in is because of compressor air. If the air compressor is located in contaminated places and the diving cylinders are filled and there is no follow-up of the condition of the filters and air filter channels correctly, carbon monoxide gas may enter the cylinder, and if some oil leaks on the filter also may lead to leaking of carbon monoxide. In the event that the transformer wires in the air compressor are burned, the carbon monoxide gas will be automatically generated and will be compressed greatly and large particles in the diver cylinder and the real problem is that, it is not possible to discover this gas through oxygen testing devices, or by smelling air or tasting it. The only way is to “gases analyze” that we can do through companies and labs filling cylinders for medical gases used in hospitals, so this gas was named the silent killer.

Symptoms of the mild infection are carbon monoxide poisoning with headache and dizziness, while symptoms are different if the injury is severe and may lead to dysfunction of the central nervous system, shortness of breath, heart disease, and eventually death.


How to find an infection:

Like other injuries to carbon monoxide poisoning, symptoms appear directly on the person and to clarify these symptoms. Through a personal experience that I went through before writing this article, I can describe in detail the symptoms that may affect an underwater diver, namely:

  • Medium to severe headache
  • Medium to a severe blurring of vision
  • Poor concentration

Possibly, these symptoms appear at a depth of 18 meters and may increase due to the effect of pressure. Therefore, it is recommended to end diving immediately after feeling these symptoms and giving a signal to the colleague that there are a problem and a signal to end the dive and go to the surface correctly.


On the surface, symptoms can develop into the following:

  • Severe and strong headache
  • Poor to medium vision
  • Memory impairment and lack of focus
  • Numbness in the extremities

Possibly, the injury may have other symptoms that we could not reach through its personal experience or the process of searching for details of this type of injury that we conducted during our research. The symptoms experienced by non-divers may differ. It should be noted that this article reflects our experience only and a research process that relied on individual efforts without any scientific reference. 


The necessary methods of treatment and first aid:

The injured person is treated on the boat by giving him a headache analgesic and putting him in a comfortable position. Any effort should be avoided and 100% pressurized oxygen should be given by a person qualified to do so.

The patient is transferred to the nearest medical center and blood gas analyzes are performed, and treatment may require treatment in a diving chamber room.

Attention must also be paid to the fact that the endurance ability of people to become infected with carbon monoxide gas is a varying ability influenced by many factors, the most important of which are the atmospheric pressure factor, the level of activity, and the rate of its consumption of air from the cylinder. Some diseases make a person more affected by this gas, such as those with diseases of the brain, blood vessels and heart, sickle cell anemia, and other blood diseases, and metabolic rate disorders.

In the event of such a situation being exposed, it is sufficient to make sure that the cylinder is completely emptied of air and filled from a reliable diving center. Also, never neglect your choice of the center through which your cylinders are filled and lose yourself the percentage of gas in the cylinder and be the first concerned with your safety and life while practicing your diving hobby.

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