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Would it be better to hold your breath after smelling the presence of it or quickly inhale and exhale to get rid of it in your system(body)?

EDIT: Changed from carbon monoxide to cigarette smoke.

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closed as off-topic by rg255, kmm, AMR, March Ho, fileunderwater Jan 30 '16 at 19:09

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Personal medical questions and health advice are off-topic on Biology. We cannot safely answer questions for your specific situation and you should always consult a doctor for medical advice." – rg255, AMR, March Ho
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ Carbon monoxide is odorless, so you won't be smelling it unless it's mixed with something else. Exhaling won't remove it from your system because it binds to hemoglobin. $\endgroup$ – C_Z_ Jan 28 '16 at 15:40
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You don't smell carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke. It's odorless. (And not exactly the part of cigarette smoke I would be worried about.)

You smell the other components of cigarette smoke. Which are not odorless.

Holding your breath and getting out of the smoke seems the way to go. Even better would be exhaling, then holding your breath until you are clear.[1]

Carbon monoxide, as well as other components of cigarette smoke like nicotine, are very good at getting into your blood stream quickly. Plus, when at rest, we inhale / exhale at only a fraction of our lung capacity. By (deeply) inhaling (your alternative course of action), you would just get more of the smoke into your lungs than you already have.


[1]: The trick with holding your breath is of course that, if you run out of breath while still in the middle of the smoke, you can't help but inhaling deeply...

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  • $\begingroup$ What is your response to the answer given by @CactusWoman above ? $\endgroup$ – Viv Jan 28 '16 at 16:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Viv: What do you think I should respond? CO is odorless, I said so myself. Exhaling won't remove any CO already in your blood, that's true as well. But exhaling will remove (most of) the smoke still in your lungs. Besides, the generic advice would be a) a single lungfull of cigarette smoke won't kill you, and b) don't go where there is cigarette smoke if you are so worried...?!? Or is there a different, unspoken question underneath all this? $\endgroup$ – DevSolar Jan 28 '16 at 16:30
  • $\begingroup$ I do fully agree with your answer that holding your breath is a good option. But the answer of @CactusWoman of the chemicals binding to hemoglobin made me more intrigued that your "better" option of exhaling would clearly not make much difference. So I was pondering if there an actual better way than your general advice/your answer. $\endgroup$ – Viv Jan 28 '16 at 16:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Viv: As I said, exhaling is for getting rid of what's in your lungs, not yet in your bloodstream. Not exhaling gives those molecules more time to cross over into your bloodstream, while at the same time lengthening the time until you need to inhale again, so it's a situational trade-off. Since you can't do an ad-hoc chemical scrubbing of your blood, exhaling while getting into fresh air is your best bet. $\endgroup$ – DevSolar Jan 28 '16 at 16:44

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