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Testing Ford Explorers and their drivers for Carbon Monoxide

If someone has measured carbon monoxide in a Ford Explorer, what was the highest CO level ?


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I am toxicologist who joined the forum so I can share information on how to test carbon monoxide (CO) levels in Ford Explorers and the drivers of Ford Explorers.

#1. If you can smell vehicle exhaust, odorless CO is always also present, but CO may be present even if you do not smell exhaust, or after the smell fades. The only way to know the level of CO you are breathing is with a portable professional CO detector that displays from 1ppm, and preferably one that records CO measurements automatically (called a datalogger) or at least one that records the peak CO level (which you can then recall by pressing a button). Any CO level above 0 in a vehicle is abnormal unless in heavy traffic or a tunnel, and healthy non-smokers start absorbing CO as soon the level they inhale exceeds the 1-2ppm they normally exhale.

#2. Do not test vehicles with home CO alarms built to UL2034 or UL2075 standards. These are worse than worthless for use in vehicles because they give a false sense of security. They do not display any CO levels below 30ppm in real time, nor do they give any CO warning below 70ppm, even though EPA average limit for public is just 9ppm. Home CO alarms also don't provide any warning until CO has been continuously over 70ppm for 1 - 4 hours at the low end or over 400ppm for 4 - 15minutes at the high end. By the time they alarm, you have already been poisoned for anywhere from 4 minutes to 4 hours.

#3. To get your Ford dealer to take you seriously, ask a passenger to use a smartphone to video the CO levels your detector displays while accelerating over 45 mph with both front and rear AC on high, all windows closed, and recirculate ON. From my testing of 2015 and 2016 Explorers, this appears to be the worst case scenario and so the only condition you need to test. To quickly lower the CO level in the cabin after testing, leave the AC on and turn recirculate OFF (or just open 2 or more windows). Since Ford dealers do not have CO detectors, I recommend you test your vehicle again after anyone attempts any repairs. As long as you can detect CO entering the cabin under these conditions, the vehicle is not safe to drive.

#4. If you want to know how much CO you absorbed from your exposures while driving, you can use any professional CO detector to measure the level of CO in your tissues. You just need to hold your breath for 35 seconds before exhaling into the detector. This method is faster, more accurate and less painful than measuring COHb in blood, which is most hospitals can't even do in-house. If you do get your COHb tested, make sure they take both arterial and venous samples. Both are needed to determine if CO is being absorbed (a>v), excreted (v>a) or in equilibrium (a=v).

During CO exposure, you inhale more CO than you exhale, but afterwards, once back in fresh air, you exhale more than you inhale, until the level of CO in your blood and tissues tissues returns to healthy equilibrium. This can take days to years, depending on how much CO you absorbed, or until you are exposed to a higher level and start absorbing CO again. Symptoms like recurring headaches, chronic fatigue, brain fog, muscle pain and multi-sensory sensitivity can last as long as you have more CO in your tissues than your blood.
 


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J_C

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. These are worse than worthless for use in vehicles because they give a false sense of security. They do not display any CO levels below 30ppm in real time, nor do they give any CO warning below 70ppm, even though EPA average limit for public is just 9ppm. Home CO alarms also don't provide any warning until CO has been continuously over 70ppm for 1 - 4 hours at the low end or over 400ppm for 4 - 15minutes at the high end. By the time they alarm, you have already been poisoned for anywhere from 4 minutes to 4 hours.

These what? My Kidde CO detector updates every 15 seconds, shows levels 11ppm and up. AFAIK the 30ppm is only an upper limit/requirment, not a lower limit for performance. They are not at all useless to test a vehicle periodically, certainly better, not worse than worthless.

It might even be the opposite, that what you are doing is worse because you are setting an unrealistic standard that most people will not follow so they get the false perception that they shouldn't bother to test with equipment that is readily available to them, which is not the case.

If you want to state false sense of security, then where does the paranoia end? Sorry but you're not selling this well, it's trying to draw people into your paranoia. There is no reason to recheck after every repair if that repair has nothing to do with removing or replacing the exhaust.

While most consumer grade CO detectors do wait too long for too high a level to set an alarm, those with the potentially affected vehicles (3.7L EB) could still have a digital display that updates fast enough. Alarm? Meh, there are many things to check visually while driving. You check what it is important to you to check.
 




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These what? My Kidde CO detector updates every 15 seconds, shows levels 11ppm and up. AFAIK the 30ppm is only an upper limit/requirment, not a lower limit for performance. They are not at all useless to test a vehicle periodically, certainly better, not worse than worthless.

It might even be the opposite, that what you are doing is worse because you are setting an unrealistic standard that most people will not follow so they get the false perception that they shouldn't bother to test with equipment that is readily available to them, which is not the case.

If you want to state false sense of security, then where does the paranoia end? Sorry but you're not selling this well, it's trying to draw people into your paranoia. There is no reason to recheck after every repair if that repair has nothing to do with removing or replacing the exhaust.

While most consumer grade CO detectors do wait too long for too high a level to set an alarm, those with the potentially affected vehicles (3.7L EB) could still have a digital display that updates fast enough. Alarm? Meh, there are many things to check visually while driving. You check what it is important to you to check.

I stand corrected. Kidde does sell one model of CO "Monitor" (KN-COU-B)
http://www.kidde.com/home-safety/en/us/products/fire-safety/co-alarms/kn-cou-b/
--in contrast to 16 models of home CO "Alarms"
http://www.kidde.com/home-safety/en/us/products/fire-safety/co-alarms/

--that displays the CO level continuously from 10ppm,
but this CO monitor can't be calibrated, can't be used to measure CO in breath,
and the SRP is $191.99,
for which you can buy a smaller, more accurate, and less expensive
professional CO detector that displays from 1ppm, can be calibrated,
can measure CO in breath, and can be set to alarm instantly over any level you choose, so you don't have to watch it while driving.

(see for example the T40 Rattler from Industrial Scientific, or the CO Inspector from Sensorcon; I have no affiliation with either).

Although your Kidde home "CO Monitor" is better than UL-listed home "CO Alarms", the early warning it provides at "low levels" "below 30ppm" is only triggered after CO has been continuously over 20ppm for at least 115 minutes. This may save your life, but it won't prevent you from being CO poisoned first!

As for paranoia, I think it is reasonable to be concerned when CO is the leading cause of unintentional deaths and poisonings in USA, when vehicle exhaust is the primary source of CO poisoning, and when over 1 million Ford Explorers built since 2011 may have multiple CO leaks that dealers can't diagnose or fix because they don't have CO detectors of any kind.
 




J_C

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There are many CO detectors that sense down to 11ppm. It seems likely that the same sensor is used in many different makes and models, costing anywhere from $25 and up on sale.

Speaking about levels and alarms, the OSHA standard appears to be 35ppm so you could literally be getting more CO poisoning at work than driving the same ~ 8 hours in your Explorer without a CO detector alarm going off.
https://www.osha.gov/dts/sltc/methods/inorganic/id209/id209.html

This is not only enough to save your life but also to alert you before the CO poisoning is at a problematic level so you can cease to drive the vehicle until it is repaired. Regardless as I already stated you can merely glace at the display as you would any other thing while driving.

This applies to ANY vehicle, of any make, model, age, not just "over 1 million Ford Explorers built since 2011 may have multiple CO leaks". Any vehicle "may" have CO leaks. Checking and finding none, then obsessing about unrelated repairs, is paranoia.
 




reserved50

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J_C

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^ IMO 15 seconds is instant enough for the purpose, considering that it's going to build up gradually, not like someone suddenly set off a CO bomb.

Frankly I feel that all vehicles should have a factory CO monitor in them, especially the electric hybrids, some of which if left on accidentally, may turn the engine on in your garage once the battery runs low. I vaguely recall a news segment about a couple that died in their bedroom asleep due to this.
 




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I filed a petition with NHTSA in 2000 requesting that manufacturers be required to hardwire cabin CO alarms into all their vehicles, to provide some early warning at low levels of exposure and to shut down the engine at high levels (only if not moving of course, such as in a garage) in order to prevent about 1500 deaths per year.

Despite NHTSA's own engineers having determined a decade earlier that this would cost under $12 per vehicle, NHTSA rejected my petition in 2005, saying anyone who was concerned could simply place a home CO alarm in the vehicle. Over 10,000 people have died needlessly since from vehicular CO poisoning.
 




J_C

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^ Well there you go, there's a product you could market, then let those who want one pay for it without the entire industry/consumers being burdened, which seems to be the opposition to a federal mandate.

It wouldn't be terribly hard to wire that into any vehicle that has available electrical diagrams, even using your favorite readily available CO detector with an audible alarm set at the level you want. Merely take the output to the buzzer and (give it enough gain through a transistor if necessary) it triggers a normally closed relay to interrupt fuel or ignition. If it's an intermittent buzzer tone then a logic latch would keep the interrupt live.

Getting it to only do this when the vehicle isn't moving would be a little trickier, put a microcontroller into the circuit that samples a speed sensor and based on no signal, triggers a second relay or transistor to complete the circuit that the normally closed interrupt mentioned above triggers through.
 




Mbrooks420

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Seems to be a common enough concern that Ford would voluntarily put them in these specific Explorers before a few people are killed, and the Explorer faces a mandatory recall and tons of bad press.
 




Bob Mosso

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Great details in this post. Just wanted to share there is a relatively new carbon monoxide detector available, small, sun visor clip, alarms fast and starts alarming at 25ppm. I've had it in my Durango for more than a year and it has alarmed on 3 occasions while driving, and a few times when just started and idling in the driveway.

Check out toxinsensors.com, CM-2000SV, lowest price seems to be via eBay, $59.98.
 




peterk9

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Welcome to the Forum Bob.:wave:

Peter
 




JCat

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I am toxicologist who joined the forum so I can share information on how to test carbon monoxide (CO) levels in Ford Explorers and the drivers of Ford Explorers.

#1. If you can smell vehicle exhaust, odorless CO is always also present, but CO may be present even if you do not smell exhaust, or after the smell fades. The only way to know the level of CO you are breathing is with a portable professional CO detector that displays from 1ppm, and preferably one that records CO measurements automatically (called a datalogger) or at least one that records the peak CO level (which you can then recall by pressing a button). Any CO level above 0 in a vehicle is abnormal unless in heavy traffic or a tunnel, and healthy non-smokers start absorbing CO as soon the level they inhale exceeds the 1-2ppm they normally exhale.

#2. Do not test vehicles with home CO alarms built to UL2034 or UL2075 standards. These are worse than worthless for use in vehicles because they give a false sense of security. They do not display any CO levels below 30ppm in real time, nor do they give any CO warning below 70ppm, even though EPA average limit for public is just 9ppm. Home CO alarms also don't provide any warning until CO has been continuously over 70ppm for 1 - 4 hours at the low end or over 400ppm for 4 - 15minutes at the high end. By the time they alarm, you have already been poisoned for anywhere from 4 minutes to 4 hours.

#3. To get your Ford dealer to take you seriously, ask a passenger to use a smartphone to video the CO levels your detector displays while accelerating over 45 mph with both front and rear AC on high, all windows closed, and recirculate ON. From my testing of 2015 and 2016 Explorers, this appears to be the worst case scenario and so the only condition you need to test. To quickly lower the CO level in the cabin after testing, leave the AC on and turn recirculate OFF (or just open 2 or more windows). Since Ford dealers do not have CO detectors, I recommend you test your vehicle again after anyone attempts any repairs. As long as you can detect CO entering the cabin under these conditions, the vehicle is not safe to drive.

#4. If you want to know how much CO you absorbed from your exposures while driving, you can use any professional CO detector to measure the level of CO in your tissues. You just need to hold your breath for 35 seconds before exhaling into the detector. This method is faster, more accurate and less painful than measuring COHb in blood, which is most hospitals can't even do in-house. If you do get your COHb tested, make sure they take both arterial and venous samples. Both are needed to determine if CO is being absorbed (a>v), excreted (v>a) or in equilibrium (a=v).

During CO exposure, you inhale more CO than you exhale, but afterwards, once back in fresh air, you exhale more than you inhale, until the level of CO in your blood and tissues tissues returns to healthy equilibrium. This can take days to years, depending on how much CO you absorbed, or until you are exposed to a higher level and start absorbing CO again. Symptoms like recurring headaches, chronic fatigue, brain fog, muscle pain and multi-sensory sensitivity can last as long as you have more CO in your tissues than your blood.

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(I am suspicious that this thread might be deleted)
 








blwnsmoke

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(I am suspicious that this thread might be deleted)

We would delete a thread that is 26 months old? Ya, that makes sense.
 




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