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It is produced whenever carbon or carbonaceous
matter is burnt with insufficient supply of oxygen.
The gas is colourless, odourless, tasteless and non
irritating. It is only slightly lighter than air (sp. gr.
0.967) and combustible but does not support
combustion. It is hardly soluble in water, 100 vols of
water dissovling 2.3 vols. of gas at 20 C. In air it
burns with a light blue flame to CO, It forms an
explosve mixt ure with air when.present within the
range of nearly 1 2 % and 75 % by vol . Critical temp
. 140 C, critical pressure 35 atmos.
The production of CO in a mine may be due to
any one or more of the following cases:-
Oxidation of coal and other carbonaceous
Due to explosion
Due to spontaneous combustion
Due to methane or coaldust explosion
Due to running of underground machinery
carbon monoxide is a very poisonous gas and its affinity for the
haemoglobin of the blood is nearly 300 times that of oxygen.If CO is present even in
small quantities in the inhaled air it is difficult for blood to absorb proper quantity
of oxygen to support life because of the formation of stable
carbooxyhaemonglobin when carbon monoxide reacts with haemoglobin a person
exposed to atmosphere containing CO may not know that he is inhaling the
poisonous gas unless he is equipped with Co detecting devices.Carbon monoxide
imparts a pink tinge to the blood and a man thus poisoned presents when alive
and even in death for some time, a most life like appcarance.
The effects of breathing air containing CO are:
% of CO in air 002 headache, discomfort and possibility of collapse after 45 minutes at
work or two hours at rest
0.2 – unconsciousness afte 10minutes at work or rest.
r0.5 to 1.0 Death after 10- 15 mts. of work
The after effects of CO poisoning are headache, loss of strength, and in some cases,
even paralysis.
• DETECTION OF CARBON MONOXIDE: An efficient method should be
adopted to detect CO in the initial stages itself. For this purpose warm
blooded birds like munia or mouse are commonly used as they are
affected much earlier than man by CO. Such birds form the essential
equipment of a rescue party entering a mine after explosion or fire . Only
fresh birds are used as some may get accustomed to small percentages of
the gas . With 0.15 % of CO present in the air a bird shows distress (ruffing
of feathers, pronounced chirping and loss of liveliness ) in 3 mts and falls
off its perch in 18 mts . With 0.3 % CO the bird shows almost immediate
distress and falls off its perch in 2-3 mts. Immediate signs of distress are
not likely to be observed on birds when exposed to only 0.1 % of CO ; they
are visible only when the concentration is more than 0.3 % . Ordinary
sparrows are not suitable for CO detection and in an atmosphere
containing CO to the extent of 1 to 2% the sparrows did not exhibit any
signs of distress untill they were dead . For atmospheres containing more
than 0.15 % carbon monoxide , as is met with in mine resuce work , a cage
with munia birds is a good indicator.
• Carbon monoxide detectors are based on the
chemical reaction of CO with certain resulting in a
change of colour The chemicals are kept in
detector tubes which are sealed at both ends and
can be stored for 12 years . The seals are broken
at site just before detection of gas percentage
and the tube inserted into an aspirator which
draws in mine air . The air containing CO causes
change in the colour ofthe chemicals in the tube .
The resulting colour is cornpared to a standard
chart by which the percentage o fCO can be
known . Some of the detectors are :
• The P S. Detector consist of a glass tube containing
silica gel impregnated with light yellow potassium
palladium sulphite with silica gel at both ends for
absorbing other gases. A fixed volume of air (120cubic
cm) is drawn through a tube at a constant rate over a
period of two minutes through a calibrated orifice by
operating a rubber aspirator .Carbon monoxide in the
air turns the light yellow colour of potassium palladium
sulphite to brown and the length of colour change from
one end of the tube idicates its concentration.Range of
the instrument is 0005 % to 0.12 % of CO. The detector
is manufactured by Siebe Gorman and Co. Ltd., Britain.
• The Hopcalite detector:
The generation of heat on the oxidation of carbon monoxide
to carbon dioxide has been utilised by a detector
manufactured by the Mine Safety Appliance Co. USA. It
consists of an analysing cell containing hopcalite, which is a
specially prepared mixture of manganese dioxide and
copper oxide. Air is drawn into the cell by a hand operated
pump. Carbon monoxide in the air is catalytically oxidised
by hopcalite and the rise in temperature so produced is
recorded by a thermocouple connected in series to a meter
which is calibrated in the percentage of carbon monoxide.
Range of the instrument is from 0.005 to 0.015 % carbon
• The Hoolamite Tube
• In another detector hoolamite which is a
mixture of iodine pentoxide and sulphuric acid
is used. The greyish white colour of hoolamite
will be converted to a shade of green, brown
or black by the reaction of CO which liberates
iodine. The percentage of CO may be
estimated from a colour chart.
Carbon monoxide detecting of M.S.A
• The firm of M.S.A. markets CO detecting instrument which consists
of an aspirator, a colour comparing scale and CO detecting tubes
.The CO Detector (Aspirator) allows the user to use a variable
number of squeezes (1, 2 or 5), thereby enabling detection of CO
concentrations from as low as 10 ppm to as high as 1000 ppm by
the colorimetric process i.e. comparison of colours. The tube
contains a chemical (yellow sílica gel impregnated with palladium
sulphate and ammonium molybdate) and sealed at both ends. It is
inserted at the spot of detection into the CO detecting aspirator
after breaking the sealed tips. The aspirator bulb (60c.c) is squeezed
once, twice of 5 times and the CO sucked into the instrument
changes the colour of the chemi cal in the tube to green. The extent
of colour change s on the percentage of CO. Each squeeze of the
bulb (60 c.c. capacity) sucks in a fixed volume of the air to be
sampled which passes through a detector tube fixed at the intake
• If the percentage of CO is small, upto 10 ppm
5 squeczes of the aspirator r bulb are ne lb are
necessary The yellow reacting gel is moisture
sensitive and the guard gel is not sufficient to
remove t in large volumes. The tubes are
available in packs of 10 and a tube can be
used only once.