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CPSC Continuing to Evaluate Sensors in Gas Heaters to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Consumer Product Safety Commission will hold a forum June 3 in Rockville, Md., as another step toward a possible standard for carbon monoxide sensors in vented gas heating appliances (e.g., gas furnaces, boilers, wall furnaces and floor furnaces). The CPSC is also requesting the submission no later than July 7 of information on the availability of sensors that are capable of (a) operating within the flue passageways of a gas appliance or similar environment, (b) directly or indirectly monitoring CO levels or other gases or environmental conditions associated with the production of dangerous levels of CO, and (c) providing a shutdown or other preemptive signal in response to dangerous levels of CO.

The CPSC states that despite safety improvements to the gas appliance voluntary standards in the 1980s, the governing standards for gas-fired central furnaces, boilers, and wall and floor furnaces do not protect against many of the failure modes or conditions observed to cause or contribute to CO exposure incidents. CPSC staff has worked with voluntary standard organizations for more than a decade to encourage including CO shutoff requirements in voluntary standards, but in 2005 a decision was made not to pursue CO/combustion sensor testing on the grounds that there were no commercially available sensors that were durable enough to withstand the furnace operating environment or had the expected life span of a furnace. Subsequent CPSC testing, however, led the agency to conclude that such sensors do exist and that the inclusion of a CO shutoff requirement in the voluntary standard is technologically feasible.

The CPSC is therefore requesting more information to help it gain a broader understanding of the availability and the state of the art of all sensor technologies that are capable of being used within heat exchangers, flue passageways and/or vent systems of vented gas heating appliances to shut down the appliance in response to dangerous levels of CO in these areas of the appliance or upon detection of incomplete combustion conditions that can lead to the production of dangerous levels of CO. The Commission will use this information to determine its future work in this area.

Individuals interested in serving on panels at the June 3 forum should register by May 9, while all others who wish to attend should register by May 23.

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