Parliamentarians warmly welcome the Government’s decision to act on carbon monoxide poisoning

Barry Sheerman MP and Baroness Ilora Finlay warmly welcome the Government’s announcement today to extend regulations to keep people safe in their homes from the silent killer of carbon monoxide. This is especially important while people are having to stay at home over the winter months because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group (APPCOG), co-chaired by Barry Sheerman MP and Professor the Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, has for many years been pressing the government to require carbon monoxide alarms to be fitted in all types of housing.  Carbon monoxide, a gas released when fuel is not properly burnt, causes death and severe illness. It is described by the Department for Health as the most common cause of fatal poisoning in the USA and Europe.

Barry Sheerman MP said:

“It is fantastic news for all households that the Government has announced it will consult on making carbon monoxide alarms mandatory in social housing, all rentals, and when a fixed heating appliance of any fuel type is installed in any home.  The All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group has long been calling for life saving CO alarms to be required in all homes in England, no matter what tenure or fuel type they use. This will help protect millions of tenants and homeowners.”

Baroness Ilora Finlay said:

“The symptoms of CO poisoning are unspecific, and may easily be mistaken for a hangover, common flu, or dementia, and therefore ignored.  Especially while people are isolating in their homes due to Covid-19 restrictions it is vitally important to be aware of the risk from this silent killer.  We urge everyone with a gas or solid fuel boiler or cooker to be alert, to have their appliances properly serviced, and to install a certified CO alarm.” 

APPCOG is holding CO awareness week next week, 23-27th November, and will be providing guidance and awareness messages for the general public. 


Notes for Editors:

Accidental CO exposure is known to cause around 30 deaths each year, along with 200 hospitalisations and an estimated 4,000 A&E visits. However, these figures are judged by medical experts to be the tip of the iceberg.  The non-specific symptoms of CO exposure (headaches, nausea, dizziness, loss of consciousness, amongst others) and low awareness amongst the public and medical professionals means that poisoning is often missed.

Gas Safe Register estimate that 2.7 million private renters in the UK are at risk of CO exposure due to faulty gas appliances.

The APPCOG’s 2017 report, Carbon monoxide alarms: tenants safe and secure in their homes, recommended CO alarms become mandatory immediately across the private rented sector wherever any fuel-burning appliance is installed, and then extended to social housing and owner-occupier homes. Our recommendations were supported by the House of Commons Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee’s report on the Private Rented Sector in April 2018.

Following detailed submissions from industry and the housing sector to the MHCLG review, and the momentum gathered by Eddie Hughes MP’s Carbon Monoxide (Detection and Safety) Private Members Bill, the government announced a review of all carbon monoxide alarm requirements in at the end of April 2018. The APPCOG supported this review and took part in the MHCLG Working Groups looking at the cost-benefit analysis that supported the extension of requirements.

Current regulations require CO alarms to be installed in all rooms containing a solid fuel burning appliance in the private rented sector. The 2010 Building Regulations also require CO alarms to be installed alongside any new solid fuel burning appliance, regardless of tenure. In contrast, Scottish law already requires a CO alarm to be installed wherever any fixed combustion appliance (excluding those used only for cooking) is installed in rented accommodation. By 2021 all properties in Scotland regardless of tenure will have to have CO alarms installed alongside any carbon-burning appliance.  The government’s proposals of 17th November 2020 will finally bring householders in England the same level of protection.

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