How can I lower the amount of harmful carbon monoxide in my body?

Carbon monoxide is measured in parts per million (or ppm). It is normal to have some carbon monoxide in your body, usually about 0-6 ppm. 4-6 A smoker could have a level of 10 ppm or more in their body. The more a person smokes, the higher the level could be.

If you have smoked for many years, you may have absorbed a significant amount of carbon monoxide and other toxins over that time.

Stopping smoking completely and permanently is the only way to avoid more carbon monoxide getting into your body and reduce the amount of carbon monoxide inside your body.

When you stop smoking:

  • Carbon monoxide is slowly released from your red blood cells and exhaled (breathed out) in your breath (your blood level of carbon monoxide goes down).
  • You will eliminate about one-half of the carbon monoxide in your blood every 4-5 hours.

Knowing that your CO levels rise when smoking and fall when not smoking, and knowing that many other harmful toxins accompany CO in cigarette smoke, may help you make decisions about your health, such as starting a program to help you quit smoking.

   

    

4. Wald NJ, Idle M, Boreham J, Bailey A. Carbon monoxide in breath in relation to smoking and carboxyhaemoglobin levels. Thorax 1981;36:366-9.
5. Rawbone RG, Coppin CA, Guz A. Carbon monoxide in alveolar air as an index of exposure to cigarette smoke. Clin Sci Mol Med 1976;51:495-501.
6. Rea JN, Tyrer PJ, Kasap HS, Beresford SA. Expired air carbon monoxide, smoking, and other variables. A community study. Br J Prev Soc Med 1973;27:114-20.

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