Carbon monoxide detectors are as important to home safety as smoke detectors, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission. (A more recent review claims
carbon monoxide as the leading cause of more than 15,000 accidental poisoning deaths in the United States each year, and another 10,000 injuries, according to the Carbon Monoxide Medical Association). Carbon monoxide detectors should be Listed to Underwriters Laboratories latest standard
ANSI/UL 2034-02, updated since the release of the below article (see New Standards for Carbon Monoxide Detectors). For a list of manufacturers which offer carbon monoxide detectors tested and listed to the latest UL standard, see our resource links.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors Can Save Lives
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that consumers
purchase and install carbon monoxide detectors with labels showing they meet
the requirements of the new Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. voluntary
standard (ANSI/UL 2034-02). The UL standard, (originally) published in April 1992, requires
detectors to sound an alarm when exposure to carbon monoxide reaches
potentially hazardous levels over a period of time. Detectors that meet the
requirements of UL 2034 provide a greater safety margin than
About 200 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning associated
with home fuel-burning heating equipment. (A more recent review claims
CO as the leading cause of more than 15,000 accidental poisoning deaths
in the United States each year and another 10,000 injuries according to the
Carbon Monoxide Medical Association) Carbon monoxide is a colorless,
odorless gas that is produced when any fuel is incompletely burned.
of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to flu-like illnesses and include
dizziness, fatigue, headaches, nausea, and irregular breathing. Carbon
monoxide can leak from faulty furnaces or fuel-fired heaters or can be
trapped inside by a blocked chimney or flue. Burning charcoal inside the
house or running an automobile engine in an attached garage also will
produce carbon monoxide in the home.
The first line of defense against carbon monoxide is to make sure that all
fuel-burning appliances operate properly. Consumers should have their home
heating systems (including chimneys and flues) inspected each year for
proper operations and leakage. Inspectors should check all heating
appliances and their electrical and mechanical components, thermostat
controls and automatic safety devices.
Properly working carbon monoxide detectors can provide an early warning to
consumers before the deadly gas builds up to a dangerous level. Exposure to
a low concentration over several hours can be as dangerous as exposure to
high carbon monoxide levels for a few minutes - the new detectors will
detect both conditions. Most of the devices cost under $100. Each home
should have at least one carbon monoxide detector in the area outside
individual bedrooms. CPSC believes that carbon monoxide detectors are as
important to home safety as smoke detectors are.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Office of Information and Public Affairs
Washington, DC 20207
The information provided on
this page is based upon the CPSC current scientific and
technical understanding of the issues presented. Following the advice given
will not necessarily provide complete protection in all situations or
against all health hazards that may be caused by indoor air pollution and
other indoor environmental contaminants.
The CPSC have not reviewed or
approved all the information and documents on indoor air quality that may be
provided by other groups or organizations.
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