Carbon Monoxide

Frequently, after a day on the lake, we feel irritable, nauseous, or have a headache. We typically blame the sun, the wind, the beer, a hard fall, or simply exhaustion. We may be experiencing the subtle toxic effects of Carbon Monoxide. Engine exhaust and Carbon Monoxide are pulled into the back of the boat due to the Station Wagon Effect. Click here to see the “Station Wagon Effect” Video.

Children, the elderly, and anyone with asthma or other lung condition are especially vulnerable.

Pregnant women need to be extra cautious because the developing fetus is particularly susceptible to Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

If you are in a boat without FAE, sit at the front.

The Station Wagon Effect is aggravated by:

– Traveling slowly (No Wake Zone)
– A tailwind (a breeze from behind)
– More weight in the rear of the boat – such as V-Drive boats, Wakeboarding, and Wake Surfing

The effects of Carbon Monoxide are cumulative; the longer your exposure, the greater the health risk. All pre-catalytic boats produce dangerous levels of Carbon Monoxide; even boats with Ultra Low Emission engines.  Also, we now know that Carbon Monoxide poisoning causes oxidative stress to the brain and can cause long term permanent damage.

Appendix A Averages

This graph shows average Carbon Monoxide levels at 10 mph. The red lines show the levels of Carbon Monoxide with a standard exhaust. The level at the swim platform can exceed 1200 ppm; this level is lethal and can kill in moments. The small green lines show the levels of Carbon Monoxide with Fresh Air Exhaust installed; these levels were 1 ppm average.