Parking Structures Air Quality Safety Often Overlooked

Parking garage safety typically conjures up ideas of lighting, accidents and maybe even slip and falls. There is an invisible but sometimes deadly safety issue that many facility managers and owners overlook probably because it is invisible and that is air quality in parking structures.

Parking garages that are stand alone are an issue but perhaps more so are the parking parking garage air qualitystructures that are attached to residential living spaces and retail where people spend more time. In these locations the vehicle emissions can seep through walls infiltrate the ventilation and can cause health issues to the occupants. Another big concern for the property managers and facility managers is the occupational safety of the employees operating the garage as well as the occupants that tend to linger and talk on their way to their vehicles.

There are some solutions to the NO2 and CO issues found in parking garages that can also minimize energy costs in relation to ventilation and heating so many times addressing the parking garage sensor and safety issue is a win win by reducing the energy costs.

By nature parking structures have the biggest issue with CO and NO2 because these are the most abundant contaminants that are found in the air of these structures. These present significant safety concerns as noted in the table from Honeywell (below). As you can see that even with very low percentage of contaminants such as 1.28% of CO can cause death in 1-3 minutes. So as you can see that CO and NO2 levels must be controlled or ventilated every time the concentrations get to unsafe levels.

CO Level In the Air Toxic Symptoms and Time Breathed
In Parts per Million  In %
128,800ppm 1.28 % Death 1-3 minutes
6,400 ppm .64% Headache, dizziness in 1-2 minutes. Death in 10-15 minutes
3,200 ppm .32% Headache, dizziness, Nausea within 10 minutes. Death within 30 min.
1,600 ppm .16% Headache, dizziness, nausea within 20 minutes. Death within 2 hours
800 ppm .08% Headache, dizziness, nausea within 45 minutes, convulsions. Coma within 2 hours
400 ppm .04% Frontal headache 1-2 hours, widespread 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours
200 ppm .02% Slight headache, tiredness, dizziness, nausea after 2-3 hours

 

Nitrogen Dioxide Toxicity Levels and Related Health Symptoms
NO2 Level in Air Toxic Symptoms and Target Organs
5 ppm Chronic bronchitis, emphysema
5 ppm Eye, nose, and upper respiratory irritation
5 ppm Chronic bronchitis, emphysema
5 ppm Eye, nose, and upper respiratory irritation
5 ppm Chronic bronchitis, emphysema
5 ppm Eye, nose, and upper respiratory irritation
1 ppm Mild headache
1 ppm Acute pulmonary edema; lower respiratory irritation (cough, dyspnea)
1 ppm Eye, nose, and upper respiratory irritation
0.2 ppm Lower respiratory irritation

 

Information courtesy of Honeywell http://www.honeywellanalytics.com/~/media/honeywell-analytics/documents/english/apn069_parkinggarage_web_1-8-15.pdf?la=en

I save money by turning on the ventilation only when it is hot in the parking garage.”, actual comment from an uninformed parking garage manager and his actions putting himself and others in a very real safety issue. In parking structures the ventilation is not to regulate temperature but vehicle emissions don’t always have an odor or are visible.

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