Cancer and construction materials | Final part

Last week we were looking into how to achieve a healthier environment, and we provided some recommendations which included important aspects such as ventilation, type of water consumed, and toxic building materials, we even added, some information on devices that generate electromagnetic waves for good measure.

We analysed the malignant gas radon, if found inside our home and also the disturbing information on electromagnetic fields although there were no conclusive evidences on this side.

However none of those can be as lethal as carbon monoxide (CO2) poisoning, known as the sweet death, it is the main cause of deadly accidents year after year like the one that occurred in the Castellón town of La Todolella.

Highly dangerous.

Intoxication produced by the inhalation of carbon monoxide tends to trigger every year various tragic deaths in Spain, as occurred recently when 18 people died at a hostel in the Castellón town of La Todolella. It is estimated that in the last five years 89 people have died at least in Spain for this cause. The journal of the American Medical Association, points out that carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States.

Only detected with special sensors devices.

CO2 is dangerous because it is a gas which can only be detected by means of sensors, since it is colourless, odourless and tasteless, and it can cause death when breathing in high levels while those affected will not recognize. They tend to fall into a state of sleep without feeling any choking or suffocation, hence called "the sweet death". José Antonio García-Andrade, a forensic doctor known for his involvement in important criminal cases in Spain, said that in the majority of cases the victims do not realize what is happening, and the inhalation causes them legs paralysis preventing them from running to obtain help or to escape to a safer space.

"The sweet death"

CO2 is produced in the combustion of materials such as butane, propane, gasoline, kerosene, coal, oil, or wood. Fireplaces, boilers, water heaters and household appliances such as stoves or cooking stoves that use these materials can lead to leaks of CO2 if they are not working well. Also, CO2 it is also produced by cars, as any machine carrying a combustion engine.

Although, natural gas (methane) is not toxic: its molecules are not soluble in water so that they do not pass to the blood system through the pulmonary mucosa. However, it does produce suffocation when inhale in large doses. Natural gas is odourless, but often an odorant is added so that the user can perceive it, called Tetrahydrothiophene (THT), a very stable sulphur chemically that maintains its properties when it reaches the user. While natural gas is lighter than air, so, when any leakage occurs, quickly goes up and out into exterior spaces, propane gas and butane however are heavier than air, so have a tendency to accumulate in low places.

Butane and propane are heavier than air.

Intoxication occurs because the CO2 is combined with the blood through the lungs much more easily than oxygen, and prevents haemoglobin to transport oxygen to the cells, so the body cannot get the energy needed to survive. CO2 poisoning can presents any of the following symptoms depending on the quantity inhaled: headache, irritability, confusion, grotesque or capricious behaviour, difficulty breathing, fainting, dizziness, weakness, nausea and vomiting, rapid pulse of the heart, chest pain, seizures, loss of hearing, blurred vision, disorientation, loss of consciousness, coma, cardiac arrest and respiratory failure.

Exposure to the carbon monoxide, even for a brief period, can produce irreparable damage, from mood swings and permanent headaches to neurological injuries. It will take a long time for the individual recovers if survive to a large doses of monoxide. In some cases symptoms of impaired mental ability could appear after two weeks, the likelihood of recovering completely isn't very high. Even if there are no symptoms for some time, the deterioration of mental ability could reappear within two weeks.

Other gases are also dangerous.

On the other hand, thousands of accidents occur throughout the world as a result of inhalation of other gases that can be found in wells or septic tanks, industrial tanks, boats cellars, smoke from fires, gases from wine cellars during fermentation, etc. In all these cases the cause is the effect of accumulating gases that do not contain oxygen; these are substances that block some vital functions of the organism, so breathing in such atmosphere can lead eventually to death.

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As it is impossible to know in detail every case asked in this blog, all our replies are given in good faith but we strongly suggest that you obtain private advice from a solicitor /and /or  architect who will be able to study in depth your own particular case.

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