[Last revised 11-26-10].
In the mid-1980s, I lived in the Seattle area where vehicle emissions testing was required. My new used vehicle tested less than 0.01 percent carbon monoxide, i.e., between zero and 99 ppm. The equipment could not measure below 100 ppm.
My vehicle also made over 15 percent (150,000 ppm) CO2. Both levels were desirable according to the law and typical for the new generation of “clean-air” vehicles.
These actual emissions readings must have been an embarrassment to the Department of Ecology. Before such vehicles (using a conservative 100 ppm for monoxide) could cause the monoxide limit for air to be exceeded (Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, 35 ppm average for 8 hours. This is not even a dangerous limit. It is an "ok to operate within" range), the CO2 would be over fifteen times the OSHA limit (for healthy adults. They wouldn't be healthy long. Such a level is close to twice the level that will kill you. What if my vehicle only made 50 ppm of monoxide? 10 ppm?) and over 125 times the level that causes people to start complaining indoors.
Did Ecology issue warnings or reverse course? No. They quit testing the exhaust. Testing is still required. They still call it “emissions testing,” They read the vehicle’s engine codes.
Ecology once had monoxide-measuring stations around the state that could be viewed on-line. No more. The CO2:monoxide ratio from the old tests applied to these readings would permit estimates of the local CO2 level. (Increase result for the longer dispersal time of CO2).
Ecology doesn’t want you to know any such levels. That’s why they have only a single “index” measurement for air quality.
Can you deduce why so many people turned against the Rayonier mill after the emissions were changed?
Local CO2 is now the preferred weapon of misanthropes. Our “Caulker-in-Chief” offers more.
Got fungi? MRSA? Algae?
“Biomass” boiler, anyone?
Correction, sort of --- I must back down a bit. The various Washington State regional pollution control agencies do have "current air quality" monitors. They provide an AQI or WACA number that contains a carbon monoxide component, and you can learn what that is. See "Estimating the ambient carbon dioxide, CO2, level using the ambient carbon monoxide, CO, level."
Note: Ecology's CO limit is 35 ppm, 8-hour average; OSHA CO2 limit is 5,000 ppm for 8 hours in the workplace (presumably where only healthy adults work --- the usual caveat is that any toxic substance in the air is as if 2 to 3 times stronger for children); People start complaining about the indoor CO2 level when it reaches about 600 ppm --- source: Province of Saskatchewan, Occupational Health and Safety Branch, Human Resources, Labor and Employment.
Copyright © 2010 Donald L. Beeman. All rights reserved.