Symptoms of Exhaust Fumes

The exhaust fumes from automobiles, boats and gas or diesel powered generators and tools contain a dangerous gas called carbon monoxide. Since prolonged exposure to this gas can result in serious illness or even death, it is important to be able to recognize the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning 12.

Low Levels

When you’re exposed to low levels of exhaust fumes containing carbon monoxide, you will experience symptoms similar to those of the flu or food poisoning 12. You may find yourself short of breath, slightly nauseous or with a mild headache. If you get away from the vehicle or exhaust filled area, you will likely start to feel better. However, continuous exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide can cause long-term damage to your health 2.

Moderate Levels

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When you’re exposed to moderate levels of carbon monoxide, you will experience headaches, vertigo, nausea and light headedness. Getting some fresh air will usually alleviate these symptoms. But if the symptoms persist for an extended amount of time and are left untreated, you can die from moderate levels of carbon monoxide poisoning 12.

High Levels

If you are exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide from exhaust fumes, you can die within minutes.

Additional Symptoms

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You may exhibit additional symptoms from mild or moderate carbon monoxide poisoning 12. Aside from headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, and vertigo, you may also experience impaired judgment, fatigue, pains in your chest or stomach, confusion, depression, anxiety, vomiting, or fainting. You may even suffer from symptoms as severe as memory or walking problems, hallucinations or seizures.


If you or a family member show signs of carbon monoxide poisoning from exposure to exhaust fumes, immediately get some fresh air 12. You also want to go to the emergency room. The hospital can perform a blood test to determine if you’re suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, the severity of the poisoning and provide you with treatment 12.