Carbon monoxide interferes with the distribution of oxygen in the blood to the rest of the body. Depending on the amount inhaled, this gas can impede coordination, worsen cardiovascular conditions, and produce fatigue, headache, weakness, confusion, disorientation, nausea, and dizziness. Very high levels can cause death.
The symptoms are sometimes confused with the flu or food poisoning. Fetuses, infants, the elderly, and people with heart and respiratory illnesses are particularly at high risk for the adverse health effects of carbon monoxide. An estimated 300 people die each year as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning and thousands of others end up in hospital emergency rooms.