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Carbon monoxide emissions and exposures on recreational boats under various operating conditions.

Earnest G; Echt A; McCammon J; Dunn K; McCleery R; Hammond D; Blade L
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 10-15, 2003, Dallas, Texas. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2003 May; :24
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) researchers evaluated carbon monoxide (CO) exposures on over twenty recreational boats in the U.S. Most of the evaluated boats were speed boats or cabin cruisers ranging in age from new to 25 years old. These boats had gasoline-powered, propulsion engines and the evaluated cabin cruisers used gasoline-powered generators to provide electricity. NIOSH researchers are aware of 106 nationwide CO poisonings associated with recreational boats (non-houseboats) over approximately the past decade. This study was performed for the U.S. Coast Guard to better understand how CO poisonings occur on recreational boats and to identify the most hazardous conditions. Boats were evaluated while stationary and at three to five speeds ranging from 2.5 to 25 miles per hour. Carbon monoxide concentrations were measured using multiple real-time instruments at different locations on the boats and at various distances behind the boat while moving. Study results indicated that stationary conditions were generally the most hazardous; however, many boats had fairly high CO concentrations near the rear deck while moving. Most of the evaluated boats generated hazardous CO concentrations (with peak CO concentrations commonly exceeding 1000 ppm and average CO concentrations well over 100 ppm on the boats' rear decks). Two boats, one using a 150-hp Evinrude Ficht engine and the other using a 40-hp Johnson engine, had dramatically lower CO concentrations than any of the other evaluated boats having peak and average CO concentrations an order of magnitude lower than most other boats. These two new engines utilized recently developed technologies to burn cleaner and comply with recent EPA regulations. Elimination of uncontrolled gasoline-powered marine engines and more wide-spread use of cleaner burning drive engines and generators would help to reduce but not eliminate the CO poisonings seen on recreational boats.
Exposure-levels; Boat-manufacturing-industry; Poisons; Hazards; Exhaust-gases; Combustion-products; Combustion-gases; Control-technology; Engineering-controls; Environmental-control-equipment; Environmental-exposure; Equipment-design; Exposure-levels; Exposure-limits; Outdoors; Mortality-data
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NIOSH Division
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Research Tools and Approaches: Control Technology and Personal Protective Equipment
Source Name
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 10-15, 2003, Dallas, Texas
Page last reviewed: October 9, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division