carbon dioxide poisoning

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carbon dioxide poisoning

a condition of toxic effects caused by inhaling excessive amounts of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a respiratory stimulant, but it is also an asphyxiant. High concentrations can cause unconsciousness and death from ventilatory failure. Particularly vulnerable are persons who work in confined spaces with poor air circulation, such as mine shafts, silos, or holds of ships. Faulty home furnaces also have been implicated in many deaths. See also carbon dioxide narcosis.

carbon dioxide poisoning

Poisoning caused by inhalation of carbon dioxide (CO2). In small quantities (up to about 5%) in inspired air, CO2 stimulates respiration in humans; in greater quantities it produces an uncomfortable degree of mental activity with confusion. Although not toxic in low concentrations, CO2 can cause death by suffocation. Poisoning is rarely fatal unless exposure occurs in a closed space.


Symptoms include a sensation of pressure in the head, ringing in the ears, an acid taste in the mouth, and a slight burning in the nose. With massive exposures to very concentrated CO2, respiratory depression and coma may occur.


The patient should be removed to fresh air and given oxygen and, if needed, ventilatory assistance.

See also: poisoning
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