What are the effects of carbon monoxide? When we breathe it, carbon monoxide mixes with with the red blood cells in the blood and displaces the oxygen our bodies need to survive. Carbon monoxide combines with the red blood cells over 200 times more easily than oxygen and creates a condition known as carboxyhemoglobin saturation. Carbon monoxide, instead of oxygen, then gets carried to the vital organs through the bloodstream. Our organ tissues require oxygen; without it, we start to asphyxiate or suffocate. It takes the body a long time to eliminate carbon monoxide, however its absorption is very fast.