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Adverse effects of high levels of carbon monoxide exposure

Dec 2012
User rating for this question
Very Good
Answered by

General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2012
Answered : 1704 Questions
My co-workers and I were exposed to fumes from leaking group of batteries kept in our large computer room. I think the batteries are used for "back up" in case power goes out, but I'm not sure. We were smelling the rotten egg/sulfur smell for a few hours. We finally had the fire department respond , they said we had high levels of carbon monoxide in our center, as well as whatever was leaking from the batteries? I heard the co2 term used a few times. We had been coughing and feeling slightly nauseous. The fire department said they had probably been leaking slightly for months but the leak grew larger in the 3 hours we started really smelling it. Any short or long term adverse effects of this???
Posted Thu, 13 Feb 2014 in Medicines and Side Effects
Answered by Dr. Nsah Bernard 1 hour later
Brief Answer: Longterm effects are possible Detailed Answer: Hello, Thanks for posting on XXXXXXX I am pleased to be able to assist you with your query. It is possible to suffer from carbon monoxide (CO)/Carbon dioxide (CO2) which is due as a result of too much exposure to any of these two gases. The effect can occur immediately with asphyxiation/death being the short term effect especially if the exposure contains abundant gas such as during a fire. But I do believe that you will not suffer from any short term effect given that your exposure has been gradual with only small exposures for a long time. What you may experience is long term effects. I say may because there are chances you would not even experience any serious or long term adverse effects. Too much carbon monoxide in the air you breathe can greatly diminish your ability to absorb oxygen, leading to serious tissue damage. In your situation, I believe that if you are to suffer any consequences it would not be immediate but may occur in some months or years from now. It is a situation that is similar to cigarette smoking then a person quits after smoking for sometime, then develops problems related to smoking some years later. In order to evaluate your current situation (especially as you were also exposed to some unknown gases from the battery), it will be wise for you to seek medical attention for evaluation of your current lung and blood situation then redo evaluation after some months just to make sure you are alright. After which you will need to make sure you live in a well ventilated environment, avoid smoking or fumes and exercise regularly. If you follow through with this, you will have no unforeseen lung conditions and will live a healthy life. Hope this helps and wish you the best. Dr. Nsah
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