by Farhana Fayaz Batoo
Manan Sajad Malik
Dr Mueed Hafiz,
The emission of carbon monoxide from automobiles, industrialism, direct or indirect smoking, and poorly ventilated appliances like gas heaters or space heaters has gigantic effects on our lives. More specifically, during winters, people tend to stay warm in their blankets with the constant heat from heaters. The heaters in fact release a much more dangerous product, which is quite unknown amongst the common folks.
Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas, which directly affects our internal system and causes numerous health problems. It is released through appliances like heaters and can lead to allergies, dry skin, sleepless nights, and breathing problems. If people stay in contact with heaters for too long, it can even cause death in the most suffocating manner. ‘
The risk of death gets higher, as it meddles with the blood travel to the brain leading to brain haemorrhage. In order to address the recurring deaths because of this, we have found a solution to this problem. We have designed a carbon monoxide detector with automatic ventilation. This invention alarms us when the levels of CO increase in the room and automatically opens ventilation to let it out. This is a new step towards a safer, guarded, and very comfortable life for those in contact with CO on a daily basis.
Carbon monoxide is a harmful compound of carbon. Its chemical formula is CO. It is formed because of the incomplete combustion of Carbon or elements that contain carbon. It is a tasteless, odourless, highly toxic and flammable gas. It is the gas inhaled whilst smoking.
Level of CO exposure range from low to dangerous:
Low-level: 50ppm and less.
Mid-level: between 51ppm and 100ppm.
High-level: greater than 101ppm.
People start experiencing symptoms if the composition is greater than high level, i.e., more than 101ppm.
When CO is inhaled by the human body, it alters the composition of Haemoglobin and puts a stop on the absorption of oxygen into the red blood cells. By displacing oxygen in the bloodstream, the main vital organs in our body don’t get the sufficient amount and are deprived of oxygen, leading to the malfunction of these organs. CO fills the red blood cells with carboxyhaemoglobin (COHb).
The following effects occur when in contact with the specific concentration of COHb;
10% COHb – No symptoms. Heavy smokers can have as much as 9% COHb.
15% COHb – Mild headache.
25% COHb – Nausea and serious headache. Fairly quick recovery after treatment with oxygen and/or fresh air.
30% COHb – Symptoms intensify. Potential for long term effects especially in the case of infants, children, the elderly, victims of heart disease and pregnant women.
45% COHb – Unconsciousness
50+% COHb – Death.
If a person inhales just a meagre percentage of 0.1% percentage of it, they start to feel the effects. High amounts of toxic CO causes health issues like concussions, breathing problems, strokes, and heart attacks.
It also stimulates high blood pressure and thus causes heart attacks. One of the most dangerous effects of CO poisoning is Arrhythmia. Since the level of oxygen is less in the body, the heart tends to beat slower or irregularly. The irregular beating of the heart is known as Arrhythmia. This can lead to deaths as well since the heart is pumping irregular amounts of blood.
While also impairing cardiac functions and reducing the heart’s pumping capacity, it also severe the heart muscles. It also reduces the amount of oxygen available to the tissues for synthesizing ATP (Adenosine triphosphate).
CO has to pass through the respiratory tract; therefore, it passes through the lungs as well. When in contact with the lungs, it causes chronic diseases like lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma.
Pregnant women and young children are also hugely affected because of it. CO dissolves in maternal plasma crosses the placenta by passive diffusion and thus combines with fetal haemoglobin. It can lead to intrauterine hypoxia, serious neurological damage, premature birth, brain damage, or even, fatal death. Young children, if in contact with CO, show symptoms like nausea, vomiting, dizziness and headaches.
The Kashmir Scene
In Kashmir, people tend to sleep with their heaters or gas bukharis put on during the nights in the winters. As it is an odourless, colourless gas, people have a hard time identifying it and barely know if it is in their surroundings. Also, people aren’t educated or informed about it either. Recently, on January 9, 2021, a young couple and two children succumbed to this gas and died an untimely death. On January 5, 2021, a young couple also perished with their young son in the remote area of Pattan in north Kashmir because they left their gas bukhari on for the night. Such cases often occur in Kashmir and yet people continue the use of the heaters and bukharis since they have no alternative. Therefore, innovation is in need.
The prior mentioned innovations solely focus on the alert and alarm feature and focus on the detection of the gas. These inventions are only limited to alert the user or cut off the supply entirely. Our invention, on the other hand, has an automatic and wireless inbuilt ventilation actuating system, which when sensing the attached alarm, instantly opens a window in the room. The alarm, when sensing the high levels of CO in the room, automatically and wirelessly sends a signal to the ventilation system attached to a window. There, the window opens and the toxic gas is let out and the level of healthy breathable air increases. When the levels of CO get normal or less, the sensor sends another signal to the ventilator which closes the window. Thus the problem is efficiently solved without the help or need of a human hand, proving faithful to the definition of a machine.
A cost-effective CO detection and automatic ventilation system is proposed, designed and successfully implemented as a prototype, which is presented in this paper. The aim of the prototype is to mitigate the effects of CO production through automatic CO detection and ventilation. The prototype is placed in a room with a risk of CO build-up, the detectors on the prototype senses the rise in CO levels above normal, and hence signal the wireless ventilation system to work, which further lowers the levels of CO, and resets the system.
The significance of our model is to lower the risk of mortality due to CO poisoning mainly in cold regions where heating devices are responsible for CO build up. Our prototype has proven to be cost-effective, and precise after we put it through a series of testing. And we can ensure the safety and serenity of the same. The proposed system is designed to meet the health and safety standards of Jammu and Kashmir and other regions with cold climates. The cost involved in the construction of the system is much lower compared to the commercial standard, ensuring the affordability of the device. And the prototype is one of its kind with none resembling competitors.
(Manan Sajad Malik and Farhana Fayaz Batoo are B Tech students at ZAkura Campus of the University of Kashmir; They were guided by Dr Mueed Hafiz, an Associate Professor as Jahangeer, the CEO of Kashovatics, a 5-time gold medalist is pursuing PG Diploma in PI and ML at the University of Texas Austin, USA.)