The CO Research Trust has today responded to the Department of Transport's (DfT) MOT consultation by recommending the introduction of a new test for the presence of in-cabin leakage of exhaust gas.

The recommendation follows recent research funded by the Trust, which found elevated in-car carbon monoxide (CO) levels in 34% of cars tested.

While this was a small sample (26 cars) the public health implications of this are significant, particularly for people who spend a considerable amount of time driving.

The results of this study reproduce several larger studies that have been conducted worldwide.

CO is a colourless, tasteless, odourless, non-irritating gas produced as a by-product during the incomplete combustion of fuels. Exposure to CO can have serious health consequences, and in some cases, can be fatal.

It is accepted that the inhalation of low-level exhaust fumes is damaging to health, with the effect of CO inhalation on cardiovascular, neurological and mitochondrial function being well-documented.

Furthermore, pregnant women, children and the unborn are especially vulnerable to its effects.

In-cabin exhaust leaks may also contribute to the incidence of road traffic accidents. The threshold at which elevated carboxyhaemoglobin (the measure of CO in the blood) causes drowsiness has been placed as low as 3.4% per cent, which correlates to approximately 20ppm ambient

From 2030, this issue is likely to become an increasing focus of publicised health inequality, as lower-income households find themselves driving an ageing cohort of petrol- and diesel-fuelled cars.

The Trust believe that in-cabin air quality testing on MOT would be a low-cost, proportional and timely response to this issue.

As a service-based public health intervention, in-cabin air quality testing would also fulfil Marmot Policy Objective 6: strengthening the role and impact of ill-health prevention, cited in the UK Government policy document, ‘Health disparities and health inequalities: applying All Our Health”.

This is also in line with the 2019 NHS Long-Term Plan.

The full response can be found here

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About the CO Research Trust

The CO Research Trust is a registered charity which was established in 2005. The vision of the charity is a world where people are not exposed to carbon monoxide (CO).

For more information please contact;

Natalie Fleck

CO Research Trust

Follow us: @COResearchTrust

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