Preparedness & Recovery

400 Ford Police Vehicles Removed in Austin, Texas; Auburn, Mass., Officer Passes Out

41 injuries, 791 complaints of carbon monoxide in Ford Explorers have been recorded by federal safety officials.

by Melissa Hanson, MassLive.com, Springfield, Mass. / August 4, 2017
AP/Christine Hochkeppel

(TNS) — Headaches, nausea, loss of consciousness and a rollover crash are some of the aftermath people and police departments say have been caused by exhaust odors and carbon monoxide inside Ford Explorers.

The issue, which is under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has garnered a total of 791 complaints to the agency.

After an Auburn, Mass., police officer passed out behind the wheel Wednesday, and following the removal of 400 Ford police vehicles in Austin, Texas, the issue has gained national attention among police departments and the public.

According to a national highway safety report, there have been 41 injuries due to air quality concerns in the Ford SUVs, which includes the Police Interceptor models.

The investigation began in July 2016 after the NHTSA received 154 reports of exhaust odors inside the cars, including one low-speed crash. As the investigation continued, more reports were discovered and the number of complaints increased to 791, according to the report.

The complaints are for Ford Explorers with model years 2011 to 2017. Of the instances, 13 involve Police Interceptor vehicles.

Injuries recorded because of the issue range from unspecified to loss of consciousness, with the majority indicating nausea, headaches or light headedness, the report reads. One incident claims a person suffered "a physiological injury" from carbon monoxide exposure.

There were also two crashes with injuries, one of which was a rollover, per the report.

"To date, no substantive data or actual evidence (such as a carboxyhemoglobin measurement) has been obtained supporting a claim that any of the alleged injury or crash allegations were the result of carbon monoxide poisoning, the alleged hazard," the report reads.

However, there is preliminary testing that suggests carbon monoxide levels may be elevated in certain driving scenarios, although the significance and effect of those levels remains under evaluation, the report reads.

"We are working with the Auburn Police Department and have a team in Massachusetts today to inspect their vehicles," Ford wrote in a statement.

"Also, it's premature to draw conclusions from what happened (Wednesday) in Auburn after reports of carbon monoxide at levels of 13 parts per million in the vehicle," the statement continued. "According to the Massachusetts Environmental Affairs, 'most people do not begin to feel the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning until they have been exposed to levels of at least 200 parts per million for several hours or more.' Given this discrepancy, more investigating is required."

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