Dangers of fossil fuels gas emissions

It is quite simple actually : Carbon monoxide exposure is the most common method of death by poisoning in the world.

As we all know, fossil fuels, when burned, create many nasty and dangerous bi-products from carcinogens to of course Carbon Monoxide (CO) which is a gas that can kill in minutes. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless and odorless toxic gas that is produced mainly as a result of incomplete combustion of hydrocarbon fuels such as natural gas, coal, liquefied petroleum gas, and wood. In people’s daily lives, environmental CO exposure is typically < 0.001% or 10 ppm (ppm) While an adult cigarette smoker is exposed to an estimated 400 to 500 ppm of CO during active smoking, automobile exhaust may contain around 100,000 ppm CO as measured inside a closed garage. Current norms and acceptable levels of CO [OSHA PEL] in a workplace according to and in compliance with the current Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) permissible exposure limit (PEL) for carbon monoxide is 50 parts per million (ppm) parts of air (55 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m(3)) as an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) concentration. What all this has to do with garages is that when you run your car in a garage, carbon monoxide levels can rise to dangerous levels in just a minute or two, even if the garage door is wide open!

The effects of carbon monoxide poisoning on the human body are well understood. CO gas competes with oxygen in the bloodstream to bind with hemoglobin which leads to a reduction of oxygen levels to the brain. Even low carbon monoxide exposure over long periods of time can severely damage brain chemistry.

While there are some variations in short and long term carbon monoxide exposure recommended by ASHRAE, OSHA, NIOSH , the overall consensus is that

  • 9 ppm (parts-per-million) is the maximum indoor safe carbon monoxide level over 8 hours
  • 200 ppm or greater will cause noticeable physical symptoms and is fatal within hours
  • 800 ppm of CO or greater in the air is fatal within just minutes

In the workplace , auto repair shops , car dealerships, truck repair, and vehicle maintenance facilities in general , multiple vehicles could be in operation simultaneously which poses an extreme danger to both workers as well as other employees and the public who are exposed to these high concentrations. A well designed carbon monoxide removal system is critical to the health and safety of workers in any building where workers are running fossil fuel burning engines.

In a recent study it was found that just warming up a vehicle for only two minutes with the overhead door open raised CO concentrations in the garage to 500 ppm. Ten hours after the car had been backed out of the garage, there was still a measurable concentration of CO in the garage. Persons working in a vehicle service facility for a long period of time would breath a dangerous amount of carbon monoxide.