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Chips

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I hope this is a journalistic error, not a(n) actual direct quote from that linked article.

"Acting Deputy Regional Fire Chief Phil Smith said carbon monoxide was a "flammable and volatile gas. "

:oops:


I've treated these patients firsthand over the years. It requires a good bit of community education and outreach, believe it or not. The last patient I treated was a pediatric case where the family had a party, and brought in a Weber style kettle into the apartment to keep the family warm late into the night after the party had ended. They had many children sleeping on the floor in the living room where this was placed. Turns out, it's not uncommon for people to use heat methods like this in colder areas of poorer countries, in this case Mexico. The parents meant no ill-will, they just didn't know. American dwellings are for the most part, much more air-tight than many structures in Mexico, and in the very poorest of areas can be partially open sheds, or whatnot, made with whatever material is available.
 

Michi

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Acting Deputy Regional Fire Chief Phil Smith said carbon monoxide was a "flammable and volatile gas. "
I do hope that he didn't actually say that. Because, if he did, we'll have to look for a new acting deputy regional fire chief… :(

Defective heaters can kill people or cause permanent injury. It is not uncommon for people to die, or end up suffering permanent brain damage. Carbon monoxide is odourless, and there are few warning signs. People might get a headache or feel dizzy, or maybe get nauseous. If carbon monoxide sneaks up on people while they are asleep, chances are that they'll never wake up, or wake up as a vegetable.

Charcoal indoors is most definitely not a good idea.

PS: A famous djembe teacher, Abdoulaye Diakite from Senegal, was found unconscious in his room in California in 2008. He suffered CO poisoning from a defective fuel heater. He survived, but never recovered, ending up with permanent brain damage. (I happen to know because I was part of the djembe scene for many years.)
 

madelinez

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I had the unfortunate pleasure of working next to a large temporary generator in a low wind environment once. Most of the crew complained about headaches so we got measurements taken and carbon monoxide was too high, so definitely a warning sign if the carbon monoxide comes on slowly enough versus walking into a room with a high concentration.
 

lowercasebill

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Carbon monoxide is flammable. Anyone who has a BGE and has experienced flashback knows first hand. CO is the result of incomplete combustion when given 02 it completes the process and becomes CO2. Most BGE owners have singed arm hair or eyebrows.
 

Michi

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Problem is carbon monoxide victims are unconscious or dead before concentration levels become flammable. With the exception of BGE owners and nerds (i am both) no one knows. 😁
I've experienced flashback on barbeques. I always thought that it is caused by the combustible material getting overheated while there is a lack of oxygen. Then I open the lid, lots of air (and oxygen) rushes in, and I get the flashback. It never occurred to me that part of this might be due to carbon monoxide.
 

Nemo

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Yeah, CO is only half oxidised, so would be further combustible to CO2.

As mentioned, it'll kill you at much lower concentrations by poionining your haemoglobin and the oxidative enzymes in your mitochondria.

Many who survive CO poisoning end up with neurogical disorders (I've heard it referred to as "brain rot") a couple of months later.

Not nice.
 

Chips

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Carbon monoxide is flammable. Anyone who has a BGE and has experienced flashback knows first hand. CO is the result of incomplete combustion when given 02 it completes the process and becomes CO2. Most BGE owners have singed arm hair or eyebrows.

Correct. I meant in the 400th of one percent of total ambient gas that causes these symptoms. It's deadly at that level, but not flammable or explosive. Fortunately, we don't normally experience pure CO gas.
 

Bert2368

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The old fashioned "town gas" used in gas lamps for illumination before electric lights took over that market was a mixture of Hydrogen and Carbon monoxide. It was made by blowing steam over red hot coke- The Carbon would react with the Oxygen from the water, leaving the Hydrogen free, but Carbon was always in excess, so CO was mostly formed rather than CO2 as happens when excess Oxgen is available.

This is the origin of "turning on the gas" being a euphemism for suicide. Because all you had to do back then was turn on the gas lamps and/or kitchen stove without lighting the gas, close the windows and wait.
 

Paraffin

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Cool info about "town gas," thanks!

Our house is a Victorian built in 1888, it still has the old town gas pipes in the attic. The chandeliers in the parlor and other main downstairs rooms are all electric reproductions. They all have fake gas valves. I doubt many people today know about early gas light systems, or why these reproduction lights have those little fake valves in the lamp stems.
 

lowercasebill

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As an aside go to YOU tube and japanology plus charcoal. Very interesting. Seems the Japanese during wwii had charcoal burners on busses that generated CO to power the bus.
 

Bert2368

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Japanese, Germans along with nearly every axis and axis occupied country in Europe/Asia did the wood pyrolysis gas generator hack to keep their vehicles moving after the war ended civilian access to petroleum based fuels. The technique is still being tinkered with by people here in USA.

Those wood gas generators don't make much CO. The destructive distillation of wood mostly releases a mixture of methane and volatiles dominated by methanol, along with some cyclic hydrocarbons such as toluene, benzene, xylene. (My very first hands on chemistry lab class in 7th grade was destructive distillation of wood and analysis of the products).

In the case of Japan, there was a wartime program to have school aged children dig up pine stumps and roots for distillation aimed at producing a fuel suitable for running aircraft engines! This was a large enough effort that 30 years after the war, the Japanese fireworks industry was still using a byproduct of it, a hard, tarry pitch which boiled out of the pine roots and was condensed out in the purification process. This pine root pitch was found to be an excellent low temperature fuel for colored fireworks stars- We have been hard pressed to find anything so good AND so cheap as pine root pitch since they finally ran out of that wartime byproduct back in the 1970s.

The pine root sourced liquid fuel ran aircraft engines for only a few hours before the residues it left in the engines gummed them up and destroyed them- Another "last ditch" defense project.

Can you tell that chemistry, history of technology and fireworks are mania level hobbies of mine yet?
 
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