Underground Parking – Can Harm Your Health

What you may not know about underground parking may be harming you.  

When parking garages are commissioned (put into operation) there are a lot of requirements in terms of ventilation and sensors to make sure the occupants are safe from the exhaust fumes from cars, Carbon Monoxide (CO) is one of the most dangerous of these fumes.

A little about Carbon Monoxide

Briefly Carbon Monoxide is dangerous because it really has no warnings like a bad smell - it is odorless and colorless.  The symptoms mimic a stomachache or headache or even the flu.  It is hard to determine that the symptoms are from CO (Carbon Monoxide) so some people just treat the symptoms.

CO if left undetected could  be deadly too. For this reason we are focusing on underground parking garages and Carbon Monoxide in this blog. Just to put things into context, according to one CA attorney Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning kills over 5,000 people and 10,000 are injured by Carbon Monoxide (CO) annually.

The Safest Underground Garages

The safest Underground garages are the ones that are new or are maintained...

So back to that new parking garage we spoke of, well, as long as the fans and sensors are working properly you are relatively safe, at least in the beginning.  It is common that after commissioning the sensors and ventilation system are ignored, sometimes for years or even decades putting the health of the occupants in harm’s way.

The sensors and the exhaust fans need to be maintained on a schedule according to the manufacturer's instructions because this gas can have an acute (depending on the concentration) or a cumulative influence on human health.  For example the sensors for the garages may be good for 3 years or 15 years and they need to be calibrated to be sure that they operate correctly.

Frequent visitors to underground parking garages, workers in underground parking and residential housing or offices above the parking garages are most at risk.  Carbon Monoxide in parking garages can seep into the structure (housing or businesses) above the underground parking and it can even permeate through walls.

Garage Owners and Apartment Owners May Not Be Aware

Ever since I can remember I'd think about car exhaust in underground garages - I would calm my concerns by thinking surely the owners or managers are keeping up with the maintenance on these garages.

My idea that they know what they are doing was shattered when I recently heard the underground parking comment.  It was from the maintenance person at a rather large garage serving a large apartment complex. He was proud to say that he only has to run the ventilation when it is warm in the garage.  The mistake he was making was that this is not something for temperature comfort but for air quality.  The residents of that residential building were being subjected to exhaust fumes (and carbon monoxide) without even knowing it. ***The Carbon Monoxide Gas can seep into living and work spaces through the walls, cracks and piping.

What Can I Do If I Am Not Sure If We Are Safe?

Maybe the best method to make sure you are safe is to either bring this to the attention of the management or you can contact Cold Craft, Inc. anonymously and provide the relevant information so we can reach out and help them protect their employees and the occupants of the building (residential or commercial).  You can leave a message with the contact information and address of the underground garage within a 40 mile radius of San Jose at 408.412.8708.

Cold Craft has been serving the HVAC R (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration) needs of the bay area since 1991. Coldcraft.com license# 631837

If you need help with indoor comfort or air quality, contact Cold Craft, Inc.

408.374.7292 or INFO@COLDCRAFT.COM

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