It didn’t take long for the feedback to come in about my recent column regarding deaths due to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning (“I’m Mad As Hell Over CO Poisoning Deaths,” March 25). In fact, I have never had such a response. I soon realized that there are many people in our trade who are as mad as I am about CO deaths.

A former school principal suggested to me that I speak with teacher-parent groups. I took my “show on the road” recently and handed out CO literature to parents and children at a Home Depot Kid’s Workshop. I am pushing for awareness on the local level via TV, newspaper, and radio interviews.

John Jones of ABC Comfort Solutions in Oakland County, MI, said that, in response to the column, his company is now giving away a free CO detector with every first-time furnace tune-up. Another contractor sent me a similar letter.

I have no doubt that some critics will say, “Yeah, but what kind of detector are they giving away? Is it accurate and does it meet UL standards?” Sure, there is a lot of skepticism about the reliability of certain CO detectors and the methods used to test them. These are reasons why the hvacr trade does not have a standard requiring mandatory installation of CO detectors — yet.

MANDATING CO DETECTORS

ASHRAE Standard 62.2P, “Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality in Low-Rise Residential Buildings,” is now in its third review period. The standard is available for review and comment at www.ashrae.org(website). The review period runs until May 20.

The third review does not include a requirement for CO detectors, and there is a move to include the requirement. A major backer of the CO detector requirement is the Carbon Monoxide Health and Safety Association (COSHA).

According to COSHA’s president, Dr. Mark Goldstein, “The UL testing standards were previously in flux, and that is why the requirement verbiage was pulled from the standard,” he said. “The UL has now addressed the testing issue, which should satisfy the standard committee.”

In a letter last fall to Max Sherman, chairman of ASHRAE Committee 62.2P, Goldstein wrote, “Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious threat. We have the tools — carbon monoxide detectors — to prevent needless deaths, injuries, and health problems. And ASHRAE has the power to make this important change happen.”

When recently contacted by The News, Sherman responded, “The conclusion of the subcommittee was that the products currently on the market were not of sufficient reliability to include in 62.2P. This ‘no change’ recommendation was subsequently approved by the main committee. The third public review draft has no CO alarm requirement.

“There is a substantial portion of the committee that believes reliable CO alarms have a constructive role to play in standard 62.2P. [The standard] will be on continuous maintenance when passed, so individual requirements can be added/changed. If CO alarms meeting a sufficiently reliable standard are available on the market, I am sure the committee will want to reconsider the issue.”

Goldstein is encouraging people to send in feedback on 62.2P. “It takes people who really have an interest in this issue to push it through,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association (GAMA), Mark Kendall, GAMA director of technical services, said, “Traditionally our position has been that we would support a CO detector requirement in ASHRAE 62.2P, as long as it applied to all homes and not just those homes that have gas appliances because there are so many other sources for CO (e.g., automobiles and combustibles).”

I’ve heard from some contractors that until a reliable CO detector is tested and proved effective, there will never be a requirement for them in new or existing homes. Others have told me that requiring the installation of a CO detector is too costly and builders would be opposed to it.

What do you think?

Now is the time to voice your opinion.

Hall is business management editor. He can be reached at 734-542-6214; 734-542-6215 (fax); johnhall@achrnews.com (e-mail).

Publication date: 04/22/2002