Toxic taxis: Auto LPG leaks pose health hazards

Posted at 10/18/2012 7:41 PM | Updated as of 10/19/2012 7:56 AM

Toxic taxis: Study shows hazards of auto LPG leaks

MANILA, Philippines - Carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide in the blood?

That is what the Department of Health (DOH) and the University of the Philippines-National Poison Management and Control Center (UP-NPMCC) found in a study on health hazards due to exposure to auto-liquefied petroleum gas (Auto LPG).

DOH-NCR toxicologist Dr. Alberto Diaz said the UP-NPMCC randomly sampled 26 Metro Manila taxi drivers whose vehicles run on auto LPG and another 13 taxi drivers whose cars run on gasoline and diesel.

He said the study showed that those driving auto LPG-powered taxis that had leaks had higher levels of toxic substances in the blood compared to those who were driving gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles.

“Kung may leak po ang LPG fueled taxi, mas mataas ang lebel na na-a-absorb ng tao na mga toxic gases na na-absorb sa katawan katulad ng carbon monioxide at hydrogen sulfide. Ito ay poisonous gases na pwedeng makasama sa ating kalusugan. Ito ay kung may leak po,” Diaz told radio dzMM.

The toxicologist said the DOH took random samples of gases at the driver’s seats, passenger’s seats and backseats of the auto LPG vehicles and conventional vehicles.

He said they also used a different instrument for the blood tests of all the taxi drivers. “May nakuha kaming lebel ng carbon monoxide at hydrogen sulfide sa tao,” he said.

He said these toxic gases can stay a long time in the bloodstream and affect vital organs such as the heart, lungs and brain.

Diaz said the study showed that among the effects of being exposed to auto-LPG include headaches, back pain, nape pain, chest pain, cough, dizziness, dry throat, fatigue and muscle weakness, nausea and difficulty in breathing.

The toxicologist said LPG leaks can seep inside the taxi undetected, depending on the tolerance level of the driver.

He said the leaks could happen if the vehicle does not undergo regular maintenance checks.

Diaz said the UP-NPMCC study is still in its initial stages and may need to undergo a second round.

He also cautioned taxi passengers to switch taxis if they smell a possible LPG leak inside the vehicle.