Dubai Police list top 3 causes of carbon monoxide poisoning inside vehicles

The toxic gas is particularly dangerous due to the fact that it is odourless and colourless, and thus difficult to detect


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Published: Sun 4 Jun 2023, 12:21 PM

Last updated: Sun 4 Jun 2023, 3:16 PM

The Dubai Police have revealed the top three causes of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning inside vehicles. Referring to the gas as a ‘silent killer’, a top official said CO is dangerous because it has no odour or colour, “which makes it difficult to detect and determine its concentration in closed spaces”.

Ibtisam Abd Al Rahman Al Abdouli, poisons expert and director of the Specialised Forensic Evidence Department, said CO is a 'silent killer' because it can be inhaled accidentally.

"Some people may experience minor symptoms such as headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting. However, when the CO level in the body is high, it could lead to loss of consciousness and eventually death," she explained.

The police said the three main causes of CO poisoning in vehicles are:

  • Inadequate maintenance of old vehicles.
  • Operating vehicles for extended periods in closed spaces: Some motorists leave their engine and AC on in parking garages. During the energy-making process, the vehicle pulls in the air mixed with CO through the AC vents.
  • Engine modification, including the installation of power boosters: CO levels will remain high in vehicles that have undergone significant illegal modifications in the rear exhaust filters to increase power and sound. This can happen in both closed and open spaces.

This came as the police hosted an awareness workshop, where the force and its partners discussed four main topics: Standards for inspecting and renewing old vehicles, raising awareness about risks through media channels, ways to reduce incidents and local and federal legislation and regulations.

Yousuf Al Marzouqi, acting director of the Specifications Department, Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology, emphasised the need to establish standards and measures for evaluating vehicle air quality. "This should become a mandatory specification," he said.

How gas can cause deaths

The Dubai Police’s poisons expert, Al Abdouli, explained that CO is a toxic gas produced by the incomplete combustion of carbon-containing fuels such as gasoline, natural gas, oil, coal and wood.

"When a fire burns in closed places, the oxygen is gradually replaced with CO. This leads to serious tissue and cell damage and even death. Carbon monoxide poisoning is behind many deaths worldwide due to lack of awareness and wrong practices.”

There have been multiple instances of residents dying of CO poisoning. Earlier this year, the police said two domestic helpers died after inhaling the poisonous gas as they left charcoal burning overnight to heat their room. Similar incidents were reported in 2020 and 2010.

If someone is suspected of having CO poisoning, the first thing to do is get them into an open space with fresh air immediately and call for emergency medical assistance.


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