Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Emergency

Click here for information if you have a Carbon Monoxide Poisoning emergency.

Advice

If you are a victim of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning please contact us.

We are a small charity run by volunteers so initial contact by email is preferred. However, please do phone if email is too difficult.

Stephanie Trotter

The Facts about Carbon Monoxide (CO)

As a good introduction please see our leaflet http://www.co-gassafety.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Leaflet-08.02.17-atom.pdf

CO may be emitted from any faulty cooking or heating appliance powered by any fuel that burns (gas, coal, oil, wood etc.). If there is sufficient air at the flame, carbon dioxide (CO2) is produced, not CO. CO2 is a greenhouse gas but CO is lethal because less than 2% in the air can kill in between one and three minutes (see page 26 Table 23 at http://www.hse.gov.uk/foi/internalops/hid_circs/technical_osd/spc_tech_osd_30/spctecosd30.pdf

CO is lethal because the haemoglobin in the blood takes up CO in preference to oxygen. (Please note that whereas CO2 has two atoms of oxygen to one of carbon, CO has only one atom of oxygen to one of carbon.)

Human senses cannot pick up CO, which is another reason it is so dangerous. Sometimes other products of combustion also escape, which do smell but not necessarily. People can describe this as a ‘gassy’ smell.

Please note that the Gas Emergency Service basically ‘makes safe’ from gas or CO. When the consumer calls the Gas Emergency Service they ask the consumer to turn everything off and open the windows. They then visit and if necessary, turn the appliance or the gas off in that property. Thankfully the First Call Operators do have Personal Alarm Monitors or PAMs or Gasco seekers which can also pick up CO, so the employees are protected. However, as far as we know, there is no free testing of gas appliances by the gas emergency service although http://www.northerngasnetworks.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Giving-carbon-monoxide-nowhere-to-hide.pdf particularly at page 4 gives us hope. By the time the FCO arrives the CO will almost certainly have dispersed (due to turning off appliances and opening windows) unless it was coming from next door or from an unsuspected appliance, e.g. a wood burner.

In 2000 the Health and Safety Commission (now Executive) recommended that the Gas Emergency Service carries and uses equipment to test appliances for CO (to identify which appliance if any is emitting CO) but Government has failed to implement this excellent HSC recommendation.

In 2000 the Health & Safety Commission (now Executive) also recommended a levy on the gas suppliers (we would prefer the whole fuel industry) to pay for publicity about the dangers of CO and for research.

Again this excellent HSC recommendation has not been implemented. Why pay for the HSE if Government just ignores it? Also, why ignore it? Surely even on economic terms it would pay to deal with this issue? The All Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group determined that the known deaths and injuries from carbon monoxide cost £178 million per year. https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmcomloc/50/50iii132.htm

Please note that Colin Breed MP tabled an EDM (Early Day Motion) asking for these recommendations to be implemented in 2000 and again in 2007. The first was signed by 49 MPs and the second was signed by 121 MPs (see website http://www.co-gassafety.co.uk/about-co/early-day-motions/ ). 121 MPs is a huge number for an EDM, so why did it apparently have no effect?

             CO dissipates in a live body very quickly so a person needs to seek an urgent blood or breath test. If this is negative, it is not wise to assume that your home or workplace or car etc. is safe from CO and this is why tests of appliances and air in a house are urgently needed to ensure safety. Please note that CO can be emitted from next door (e.g. through a joint chimney or roof space) or another flat. Dominic Rodgers, aged 10 died from CO from next door in 2004. In 2007, Esmy Ighodalo aged 27 died in 2007 from CO emitted from a mains gas central heating boiler in another flat.

Investigations can be undertaken by CORGI Services but cost at least £1,800-£3000. If CO is suspected and if a legal action is contemplated, it is vital that this investigation is undertaken before any suspected appliances are worked on (other than to turn them off). Working on an appliance will change the evidence you may wish to rely on. Landlords and installers are well aware of this and often undertake work very quickly. Please note that in our considerable experience most Gas Safe Registered installers will not undertake this test (indeed they will change the appliance and evidence instead) and provide the parts per million of CO to the person affected. Without this, GPs don’t take CO seriously.

On the 1st December 2017 there were 2,028 registered gas engineers holding a valid certificate of competence for CMDDA1* who are qualified to test gas appliances for CO and record CO found in writing. *Kindly provided by Mark Krull (LCL) mark.krull@logic-cert.com

The problem is that people do not know what to ask for and even if they do the latest finding by Stephanie Trotter is that the person qualified under CMDDA1 will not attend unless you are a landlord. This outrageous but what I have found.

To find someone to test gas appliances for CO and provide Parts Per Million of CO to the consumer the consumer has to:-

  1. Access the Gas Safe Register website http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/
  2. Click on either ‘Gas Emergency’ or ‘Carbon monoxide poisoning’. If Gas Emergency clicked then consumer would need to scroll down to ‘Carbon monoxide poisoning’ and click on that. Then a consumer must scroll down until ‘Ask a Gas Safe registered engineer to inspect your gas appliances and flues to see if there is a dangerous problem’
  3. Click on ‘Gas Safe Registered engineer’ and ‘Find an engineer’ comes up.
  4. The consumer has to tick the box for ‘Domestic’ as opposed to ‘Commercial’ and put in their post code and can also choose whether to put a tick in the box for ‘Flexible hours’.
  5. Then some firms come up but also the consumer needs to select mains gas or LPG and whether central heating boiler etc. and can select from a list headed appliance type and select from a list of 34 types including ‘boats… combustion analysis…. cooker… fire……fumes investigation…vessel and pipe work….water heater’. The consumer needs to know to select ‘fumes investigation’ but HOW WOULD THEY especially if they had read about carbon monoxide and learned that CO has no smell?
  6. Having selected ‘Fumes investigation’, firms are then listed underneath with their engineers underneath and the consumer needs to read what qualifications individual engineers have.
  7. The consumer/victim then needs to contact said firms and ask if they employ someone qualified under CMDDA1. If so, to be sure the correctly qualified person, turns up it is necessary to ask for their name and check under the GSR. We also suggest the consumer/ victims asks how much it would cost to test appliances for CO and give PPM of CO in writing.
  8. When that person turns up the consumer has to check the ID card to make sure it is the person with the qualification CMDDA1.

We have not found anyone able to do this yet. Even a solicitor had problems.

Debra Morris of Barratts Associate Solicitor

Direct Dial: 0115 9315199

Debra.Morris@barratts.legal www.barratts.legal.

I know from experience of talking to victims of CO poisoning since 1995 that some

people who have been poisoned are often so damaged that they cannot even write

letters and emails even those who are highly intelligent and educated.

GSR tells us they will help people by phone.

We have been asking the Gas Safe Register for years to put a simple banner on their website such as ‘Suspect carbon monoxide poisoning? Click here’ This would then take the person concerned to a list of individuals qualified to test an appliance for CO with their post code (and which was capable of being searched using just a post code) and provide parts per million of CO in writing to the consumer, if found.

Please note that such a test by someone qualified under CMDDA1 is not good enough for a court case but can be a very useful filter or a first test.

Submission to HSE made on 12.01.17 at 21.

‘Could HSE please undertake a mystery shopper exercise to find someone qualified under CMDDA1 to test for CO and leave Parts Per Million in writing with the householder because even a solicitor, Debra Morris, found this almost impossible.’

In July 2017 I tried to help Susan Twiner. In 1998 Susan lost her daughter Laura aged two and her unborn but viable child Chelsea also died of CO due to her mother’s poisoning. Susan is now living in a Housing Association with a disabled child. She suspected she was being exposed to CO from her boiler. I tried to find her someone qualified under CMDDA1 to test her boiler. I couldn’t and as a result wrote the following to Sarah Hill of the Gas Safe Register on the 24th July 2017 Sarah.Hill@GasSafeRegister.co.uk

Hi Sarah

The CMDDA1 Saga

I tried Swale Heating, the first on the list kindly sent to me by your colleague.

There are 242 engineers and on page 4, 13, 15 16 (I think) and 23 I found ones offering fumes investigation.

Brian Turner, Kevin Long, Luke Owen, Matthew Byford, Stephen Higby. Apparently there are nine offering fumes investigation and apparently they are all CMDDA1 qualified. Could you please confirm? However, none are able to go to ME13.

I was recommended by Swale to try Contract Services Ltd. 01634 295515 but they act for the Housing Association concerned.

I was then recommended to Phoenix Compliance and the following email to Lindsey expresses the problem with them.

Dear Lindsey

Thank you for your help just now.

Your automatic answering service says you are an independent consultant but you told me that you can’t work on behalf of a tenant of a Housing Association not because you act for Riverside Housing Association but because you only work for Councils and Housing Associations. Could you please just confirm this? Thank you very much indeed.

Phoenix Compliance

Our Address

4 Waterside Court
Galleon Boulevard
Crossways Business Park
Dartford, Kent, DA2 6NX

Tel: 01322 224 200

Email: info@pcm.co.com

So as usual we are unable to help this tenant.

Your comments would be very welcome.

Best Wishes

Stephanie Trotter, CO-Gas Safety