The Most Important Car Accessory You May Ever Buy for Your Health

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
Leaking exhaust may enter your car's interior

Do you suffer from headaches driving to and from work and/or find yourself unusually tired once you turn the engine off? If so, then you just might want to know a little something about the most important car accessory you may ever buy for your health.

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According to a recent issue of Consumer Reports on Health, chief medical advisor Marvin M. Lipman, M.D. warns readers that not only should people be concerned about carbon monoxide when the temperatures drop and home heaters are turned on, but that you may want to consider adding your car to your carbon monoxide poisoning protection plan.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly gas that starves your cells of oxygen due to its property of being able to bind to the oxygen-binding protein hemoglobin 240 times more strongly than oxygen does. Primarily because of the use of space heaters and malfunctioning home heating systems, CO poisoning news articles are too common during the winter months. The CDC estimates that approximately 500 people die yearly from unintentional CO exposure in the United States and estimates that another 8,000-15,000 people each year are treated for CO poisoning.

Oddly enough, however, at least one study from Tel Aviv University found that low levels of carbon monoxide may be good for you if you live in a city; whereas, another study found that even burning incense in your home can be a source of carbon monoxide exposure and harmful.

Some of the earliest symptoms of CO poisoning include:

Headaches (8 Warning Signs of Pain When Your Body Is Trying to Tell You Something)
Lethargy (The Top 4 Medical Reasons for Feeling Exhausted)
Nausea (How to get rid of nausea fast and naturally)
Vomiting (Am I Pregnant?)

In his article, Dr. Lipman tells readers about one case where a patient was being treated unsuccessfully for daily headaches after taking on a new high-pressure job. It wasn’t until a medical student took a detailed patient history afterward that it was posited that perhaps the 20-year-old jalopy the patient was driving during his daily 4-hour commute may be to blame. A simple blood test taken immediately after driving revealed that the patient had an elevated level of carboxyhemoglobin, which is indicative of carbon monoxide poisoning. Once the patient ditched the old car for a newer one, his headaches disappeared and the medical mystery was solved.

However, you do not have to have old car to suspect CO poisoning due to the aforementioned signs and symptoms of CO poisoning. More recently this year, the popular Ford Explorer has been questioned by many (including law enforcement officers) private citizens that their new model Ford Explorer is the cause behind what they believe is CO poisoning from their vehicles’ exhaust while driving.

Here is a YouTube news video reporting the Ford Explorer story.

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Currently, the mystery remains behind whether or not the Ford Explorer is actually responsible for incidences of CO poisoning. Ford representatives claim that with respect to the law enforcement vehicles, that potential CO exposure could be due to modifications made to law enforcement vehicles after the vehicle’s manufacture causing exhaust to leak inside. Ford has not issued a recall, but is assisting Ford Explorer owners in having their vehicles inspected for possible CO leaks.

So, this winter season when the windows are usually rolled up, now is the time to buy the most important car accessory you may ever buy for your health and that of your family with a simple battery-operated carbon monoxide detector you can easily attach under the dash with an adhesive strip.

For more about carbon monoxide and other common dangers, here is an article about eleven common health hazards in your home.

Reaching Out

Have you ever been exposed to carbon monoxide or know someone who has and would like to share it with us and others to help raise awareness this Christmas season? If so, please respond in the comments section.

In addition, if you have a friend who complains of headaches, you may want to forward this article or send a tweet to let them and others know of one possible cause of their headaches.

References:

“What You Can’t See May Hurt You” Consumer Reports on Health Dec. 2017

Fox News “Police Get Carbon Monoxide Poisoning from FORD EXPLORERS”

Image: Courtesy of Pixabay

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Comments

I found this article very interesting. For full disclosure, I write for a related website. Before I was a writer, I worked for a company that distributed life-safety devices including carbon monoxide detectors (Vulcain division of Honeywell). If you are interested in putting one in your car (and I think it is not a bad idea if you have symptoms) be sure to get a scientific instrument, or a life-safety monitor, not a home CO detector. Home CO detectors by law cannot alarm at relatively low levels. They are designed for homes where the threat comes on suddenly and strong. The ones you need cost around $100 and will read in parts per million as low as single digits. The low-level health concern for CO is a long-term exposure of about 30 ppm. Home CO alarms won't alarm at anywhere near that. They are more like 200 ppm devices. Home CO devices are allowed to read and record lower levels of CO though. They just can't alarm at those low points. You may not realize it, but in your daily life you are exposed to low levels of CO frequently and they are not harmful. It is the "Time-weighted average" of low levels that can cause symptoms. My favorite, and the one I suggest to everyone is the Kidde Nighthawk KN COPP-3. It has a digital display and will read as low as about 11 PPM. Best of all, it has a memory that records the highest reading. Cheers,
You make a very good point that makes sense. The news reports on TV told consumers to use the same CO devices that they used in their home, but when you consider you are comparing a whole house environment space to an enclosed car space, that alone should raise a red flag that they are comparing apples to oranges. That and your point about what levels CO monitors are actually designed to detect and respond to is an important consideration that should be addressed if consumers want that added protection of a CO monitor in their car. Thank you for your expert opinion and recommendation of a more beneficial monitor drivers can use.