Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • George C. WagnerEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_541




Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas generated during the combustions of carbon-containing fuels. When inhaled into the lungs, it readily competes with oxygen for binding sites on hemoglobin. The affinity for carbon monoxide binding to hemoglobin is more than 200-fold greater than that for oxygen. Thus, at atmospheric concentrations as low as 0.1%, carbon monoxide will achieve a 50% saturation of the hemoglobin, resulting in carboxyhemoglobinemia and a significant reduction in the blood oxygen levels.

Acute carbon monoxide poisoning as, for example, following exposure to automobile exhaust (which generates about 5–7% carbon monoxide) will rapidly saturate the hemoglobin and cause death within minutes with virtually no prior symptoms.


Poison; neurotoxin


Exposure to low concentrations of carbon monoxide consequent to the operation of faulty furnaces or gas-powered engines is the leading cause of...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References and Readings

  1. Hopkins, R. O., & Woon, F. L. M. (2006). Neuroimaging, cognitive and neurobehavioral outcomes following carbon monoxide poisoning. Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience Reviews, 5(3), 141–155.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Kao, L. W., & Nanagas, K. A. (2005). Carbon monoxide poisoning. Medical Clinics of North America, 89, 1161–1194.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Messier, L. D., & Myers, R. A. M. (1991). A neuropsychological screening battery for emergency assessment of carbon-monoxide-poisoned patients. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 47(5), 675–684.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. Prockop, L. D., & Chichkova, R. I. (2007). Carbon monoxide intoxication: An updated review. Journal of the Neurological Sciences, 262, 122–130.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA