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CPSC Urges Actions to Prevent CO Poisoning

November 1, 2000
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WASHINGTON, DC — As the home heating season approaches, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urges consumers to have a professional inspection of all fuel-burning appliances, including furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, clothes dryers, and space heaters, to detect carbon monoxide (CO) leaks.

These appliances burn fuels — typically gas, both natural and liquefied petroleum; kerosene; oil; coal; and wood. Under certain conditions, these appliances can produce CO. However, with proper installation and maintenance, they are safe to use.

CO is a colorless, odorless gas. The initial symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to flu, and include headache, fatigue, nausea, and dizziness. Exposure to high levels of CO can cause death.

CPSC recommends that the yearly professional inspection include checking chimneys, flues, and vents for leakage and blockage by creosote and debris. Leakage through cracks or holes could cause black stains on the outside of the chimney or flue. These stains can mean that pollutants are leaking into the house. In addition, have all vents to furnaces, water heaters, boilers and other fuel-burning appliances checked to make sure they are not loose or disconnected. The CPSC also advises consumers to get appliances inspected for adequate ventilation.

CPSC recommends that every home should have at least one CO alarm that meets the requirements of the most recent Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 2034 standard or International Approval Services 6-96 standard.

Publication date: 11/06/2000

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