Title: Determinants of carbon monoxide exposure inside a motor home during on-board generator use

Authors: Jennifer Sahmel; Shannon Gaffney; Jeffrey Knutsen; Barbara Epstien; Dennis Paustenbach

Addresses: Cardno ChemRisk, LLC, Boulder, CO, USA ' Cardno ChemRisk, LLC, San Francisco, CA, USA ' Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Colorado, CO, USA ' Epstien Environmental Resources, LLC, Marietta, GA, USA ' Cardno ChemRisk, LLC, San Francisco, CA, USA

Abstract: Carbon monoxide (CO) is a well-known asphyxiant. As part of an incident investigation involving two fatalities, a study was conducted to determine key factors that influence CO concentrations inside motor homes/recreational vehicles. Test parameters examined included the condition of the on-board generator exhaust pipe (attached/detached), generator load (<1-20 amps), position of ventilation hatches (open/closed), parking location (adjacent/perpendicular to a masonry wall), and weather conditions (breezy/calm). A tracer gas test was also performed of the motor home undercarriage because of concerns for possible damage (no visible damage was observed). Results showed that all five parameters affected the CO concentrations detected within the motor home, but the generator exhaust tailpipe was found to have the greatest impact. Further, a specific combination of conditions, along with documented invisible undercarriage leaks, was necessary for CO concentrations to become high enough to produce acutely toxic and fatal conditions inside the motor home.

Keywords: carbon monoxide gas; carbon monoxide exposure; motor homes; on-board generators; motor recreational vehicles; vehicle safety; CO concentrations; exhaust pipes; generator load; ventilation hatches; parking location; weather conditions; undercarriage damage; undercarriage leaks; carbon monoxide poisoning.

DOI: 10.1504/IJVS.2014.063251

International Journal of Vehicle Safety, 2014 Vol.7 No.3/4, pp.409 - 424

Received: 07 Jun 2013
Accepted: 30 Oct 2013

Published online: 30 Oct 2014 *

Full-text access for editors Access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article