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Mandatory CO Standards for Residential Gas Furnaces and Boilers under Consideration

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is seeking input from interested parties by 18 October as part of a rulemaking process aimed at preventing injuries and deaths associated with carbon monoxide (CO) leakage from residential gas furnaces and boilers.

According to the CPSC, residential gas furnaces and boilers are the second leading cause of CO deaths in the United States after portable generators. The agency received reports of 57 deaths and 7,590 injuries related to residential gas furnaces and boilers between 2013 and 2015 and agency staff have worked with voluntary standards organisations since 2000 in proposing that CO shutoff/response provisions be added to the existing voluntary standards. However, despite the existence of Japanese and European performance requirements for CO sensors and repeated requests from CPSC staff to address CO risk, U.S.-based voluntary standards organisations have not adopted similar requirements.

In response, the CPSC is considering developing a mandatory standard to reduce the risk of death and injury associated with CO leakage from residential gas furnaces and boilers. The proposed rule would cover residential gas-fired central furnaces, boilers, wall furnaces and floor furnaces, whether fuelled by natural gas or propane gas. The requirements would apply to vented gas heating appliances used to heat single family homes, town-homes, condominiums and multi-family dwellings, as well as small-to medium-sized commercial dwellings.

The CPSC is considering the following courses of action: (i) adopting a mandatory standard; (ii) relying on voluntary standards, including ANSI Z21.13, ANSI Z21.47 and ANSI Z21.86, while continuing work to develop more effective voluntary standard requirements; (iii) relying on recalls, both voluntary and mandatory; and (iv) conducting an information and education campaign where the CPSC would continue to issue annual and semi-annual news releases warning consumers about the dangers of CO poisoning and promoting the importance of getting annual safety inspections of residential fuel burning heating systems. The CPSC believes Japanese and European standards demonstrate that it is technologically feasible using current technology to address the identified hazard patterns in a safety standard.

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