the results of behavioral tests such as time discrimination, visual vigilance, choice response tests, visual evoked responses, and visual discrimination thresholds.

Flammability and Explosibility

Carbon monoxide is a flammable gas. It forms explosive mixtures with air in the range of 12.5 to 74% by volume.

Reactivity and Incompatibility

Carbon monoxide is a reducing agent; it reacts violently with strong oxidizers. It undergoes violent reactions with many interhalogen compounds such as ClF3, BrF3, and BrF5. CO reacts with many metals to form metal carbonyls, some of which may explode on heating, and reduces many metal oxides exothermically. Carbon monoxide reacts with sodium and with potassium to form explosive products that are sensitive to shock, heat, and contact with water.

Storage and Handling

Because of its toxic, flammable, and gaseous nature, carbon monoxide should be handled using the ''basic prudent practices" of Chapter 5.C, supplemented by the additional precautions for work with flammable compounds (Chapter 5.F) and for work at high pressure (Chapter 5.H). In particular, cylinders of carbon monoxide should be stored and used in a continuously ventilated gas cabinet or fume hood. Local fire codes should be reviewed for limitations on quantity and storage requirements.


In the event of a release of carbon monoxide, evacuate the area immediately. Rescue of an affected individual requires appropriate respiratory protection. Remove exposed individual to an uncontaminated area and seek immediate emergency help. Keep victim warm, quiet, and at rest and provide assisted respiration if breathing has stopped.

To respond to a release, use appropriate protective equipment and clothing. Positive pressure air-supplied respiratory protection is required. Close cylinder valve and ventilate area. Remove cylinder to a fume hood or remote area if it cannot be shut off.


Excess carbon monoxide should be returned to the manufacturer, according to your institution's waste disposal guidelines. For more information on disposal procedures, see Chapter 7 of this volume.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement