Road vehicles can emit a number of harmful gases through exhaust fumes, the most common being carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Whilst these cause gases are an issue in open air environments, there is particular cause for concern in more confined spaces such as underground and multi-storey car parks.
Why are car parks of specific concern?
The gases emitted through exhaust fumes are absolutely an issue regardless of where they are being emitted, and contribute to a wide variety of issues including air pollution. However, in car parks any dangers these gases cause are exasperated due to the high number of vehicles in a small, confined area and the lack of natural ventilation to ensure that these gases do not reach dangerous levels.
What gases are present in car parks?
Vehicles emit a variety of exhaust gases including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide. Carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide are the most common and are also of particular concern due to the potential negative impacts on human health that exposure to these gases can have.
What are the dangers of gases in car parks?
Out of the two most common gases in car parks, carbon monoxide poses the more significant threat to human health. It is an odourless, colourless and tasteless gas making it almost impossible to detect without some sort of detection equipment.
Carbon monoxide is dangerous as it negatively impacts the transport of oxygen around the body which can cause a wide range of health problems. Breathing low levels of CO can cause nausea, dizziness, headaches, confusion and disorientation. Regularly breathing low levels of CO may cause more permanent health issues. At very high levels carbon monoxide can cause loss of consciousness and even death, with around 60 deaths attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning in England and Wales every year.
Breathing in nitrogen dioxide also has negative health impacts including breathing and respiratory issues as well as damage to lung tissue. Exposure to high concentrations can cause inflammation of the airways and prolonged exposure can lead to irreversible damage to the respiratory system
What regulations are there?
In 2015, a new European Standard (EN 50545-1) was introduced, specifically relating to the detection of toxic gases such as CO and NO2 in car parks and tunnels. EN 50545-1 specifies requirements for remote gas detectors and control panels to be used in car parks. The goal of the standard is to increase the safety of gas detection systems in car parks and prevent the use of inadequate systems. Th standard also the alarm levels to be used for gas detection in car parks, shown in the table below.
Crowcon Park System
Crowcon have recently launched a new range of fixed detectors and control panels designed specifically for gas detection in car parks.
The SMART P set of detectors, consisting of the SMART P-1 and SMART P-2 can detect CO, NO2 and petrol vapours, with the SMART P-2 offering simultaneous detection of both CO and NO2 in a single detector. The MULTISCAN++PK control panel can manage and monitor up to 256 detectors. Every product in the range has been designed to fulfil the requirements of the European Standard EN 50545-1.