State Patrol to install detectors on their SUVs after troopers reported carbon monoxide-like symptoms

SEATTLE — Since January, six Washington State Patrol troopers have reported medical symptoms similar to carbon monoxide exposure. Those symptoms include dizziness, sickness, and shortness of breath.

Washington State Patrol Capt. Shane Nelson says out of these six cases, two troopers were hospitalized. “We’re thankful no collisions have resulted from these reports. They were driving vehicles when they felt the symptoms.” added Nelson.

Nelson says they’ll be outfitting all 634 Ford Explorers in their fleet with detectors, costing $58  each.

In a statement Ford Motors says, in part, “Ford’s investigation into this issue is ongoing. However, the company has discovered holes and unsealed spaces in the back of some Police Interceptor Utilities that had police equipment installed after leaving Ford’s factory. When a police or fire department routinely install customized emergency lighting, radios and other equipment, they have to drill wiring access holes into the rear of the vehicle. If the holes are not properly sealed, it creates an opening where exhaust could enter the cabin.”

Hau Thai-Tang, with Ford, emphasizes civilian drivers of Ford Explorers should not be worried.

"If you are a driver of a non-police Ford Explorers there is no reason to be concerned,” said Thai-Tang.

Washington State Poison Control says symptoms for carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.

Dr. Erica Leibelt says maintaining your vehicle checks is important to make sure there is no place where exhaust can enter the inside of the car.

"You want to make sure your exhaust system doesn't have leaks in it, is not obstructed and functioning properly, that there are no holes in the bottom of your car where the exhaust could rise up into the car,” said Leibelt.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas.

Leibelt says although the risk of getting carbon monoxide poising in the car is very low, she says if you travel a lot, sit in traffic for hours, it could be an important safety step to put a carbon monoxide detector in the car, made especially for vehicles.

WSP says they plan to outfit all of their patrol vehicles within a few weeks with carbon monoxide detectors. The two troopers who fell ill from the gas, Nelson says, are back on the job and healthy.