It’s “That Time of Year” Again.


With the temperature dropping, typically the dock doors are closed more hours of the day, which for many companies means less air circulation. This can lead to problems that could be ignored during the warmer times of the year, but not this time of the year. When the dock doors were opened all day it naturally turns the air in the building and minimizes exhaust build up problems, but with the doors closed and reduced air circulation, excessive exhaust fumes can become a real problem.


The most commonly noticed problem is the Exhaust Fumes from the Propane (LP) Powered forklifts. While LP is much cleaner than gasoline, LP still burns oxygen and emits Carbon Monoxide (CO). There also have been several improvements in Emissions Controls, and these improvements have drastically reduced CO Emissions, but have not eliminated them.


So emissions are still a very dangerous problem.


Running Propane powered equipment uses the available Oxygen and emits Carbon Monoxide. As we all know, CO can cause serious health problems or death.


Here are some of the problems of Extended Carbon Monoxide Exposure at different ambient CO Levels:

Ø  At 1-3 PPM (Parts per million), this is a “Normal level” no affects should be felt.

Ø  At 30-60 PPM, Exercise tolerance is reduced, comparable to a heavy smoker.

Ø  At 60-150 PPM, Headaches are common, along with shortness of breath on exertion.

Ø  At 150-300 PPM, Throbbing headaches, dizziness, nausea, and manual dexterity is impaired.

Ø  At 300-650 PPM, Severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and collapse are possible.

Ø  At 700-1000 PPM, Coma and Convulsion are possible.

Ø  At 1000-2000 PPM, Heart and lung function are impaired, and could be fatal if not treated.

Ø  Over 2000 PPM, Loss of consciousness and then Death are a real possibility.


Here are some suggestions to help reduce the Carbon Monoxide emissions from your equipment. Make sure your engine is running efficiently, by making sure your air filterer is clean, and your engine has been tuned up properly. If there are emission controls and the fuel system has electronic controls, if you have the proper tools, make sure they are working within manufacturer’s specifications.


Once you have the machine running as well as it can, have the emissions checked, and check the ambient CO levels of the area. If you have the tools to do this you can do it yourself. If not, I recommend having a professional come in and give you a written report. Many times a simple tune up will help resolve any issue, but occasionally more work is required.


In summary, measure both the ambient CO levels as well as the exhaust CO levels. If your heating & air conditioning system does not bring in enough outside air, exhaust emissions will be a problem even if the equipment is working perfectly. So make sure your equipment is running properly and make sure your HVAC System is supplying enough outside air.