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Report on CO risk and low ventilation

July 27, 2016 featured image

A new report has concluded that there is no increased risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in buildings with low levels of ventilation provided that the appliances are properly installed and correctly maintained.

This may seem like an obvious conclusion to many of you but there has been a lot of discussion on whether simply operating a gas appliance in rooms with low ventilation is a health risk even if the appliance is safe.

The report was commissioned by the Gas Safety Trust in conjunction with the Institution of Gas Engineers & Managers (IGEM).

The report investigated the potential concentration of CO due to emissions from gas appliances in domestic buildings with low ventilation rates.

The Investigation

The Investigation was carried out in the HSE’s Health & Safety laboratory. They tested four different domestic gas appliances:

  • A four ring hob single oven cooker
  • A wall mounted flue-less gas fire
  • A portable cabinet heater
  • A standard gas fire requiring a flue

Although it was concluded there was no elevated risk of CO poisoning in these situations, the report highlights a number of areas for further work that could be undertaken.

These included:

  • Effects from poorly maintained appliances
  • The risks when using alternative heating fuels such as wood or other solid fuels

The investigation focused on the concentration of CO, there were recordings of elevated CO2 emissions from gas appliances, which could also be the subject of further research.

GST chairman Chris Bielby said:

“This report reinforces the view of the Gas Safety Trust that it is essential that consumers ensure that their gas appliances are correctly installed, regularly serviced and appropriately used”

“We also recommend the use of audible CO alarms tested to the European standard EN 50291 as a second line of defence.”

Researchers at Cranfield University (where ongoing investigations into CO poisoning are being carried out) say that more work is needed on chronic low-level poisoning. This has the biggest impact on the UK population.

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