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CO Poisoning


CO: the "Silent Killer"

According to the Canada Safety Council, approximately 200 Canadians die each year from CO. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly gas that is hard to detect because it is odorless, colorless and tasteless. A byproduct of incomplete combustion, sources of CO can include but are not limited to - fuel-burning appliances, such as furnaces, stoves, ovens and water heaters.

ULC certified CO alarms are designed to sound an alarm before most people would begin to experience the flu-like symptoms of CO poisoning (including nausea, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, confusion and breathing difficulties). By continuing to inhale CO, a person faces the risk of cardiac trauma, brain damage, coma and even death.

Misleading news reports pose serious public safety risk. Recent news reports questioning the reliability of carbon monoxide (CO) detectors based on "limited classroom demonstrations" conducted by Seneca College should not cause Canadian consumers to stop using or purchasing CO detectors, according to Underwriters' Laboratories of Canada (ULC). The independent, not-for-profit product safety testing and certification organization is strongly encouraging consumers to continue using CO detectors in their residences.

"CO detectors have and will continue to save lives from CO poisoning in Canada," said John Roberts, president of ULC. "Because safety is our primary mission at ULC, we want to emphasize the importance of using a ULC certified CO detector in the home. ULC certifies CO detectors that meet the Canadian National Standard and that will respond to the presence of CO."

"We are concerned that these unsubstantiated reports of widespread CO detector failures may be confusing to the public and could cause consumers to place themselves at greater risk by failing to install a ULC certified CO detector in their residence, ignoring the alarm when it sounds, or removing the device from their home," said Roberts.

At the request of the Ontario Fire Marshal following news reports of the Seneca College demonstrations, ULC voluntarily re-tested a sampling of CO detectors selected from the Canadian marketplace by the Fire Marshal in its accredited laboratories using test methods proscribed by the Canadian National Standard.

ULC is continuing to collect additional product samples for further testing and evaluation. Upon completion of its investigation, if the results indicate that any particular units fail to comply with the requirements of the Canadian National Standard, product-specific information will be provided to the public. In the meantime, consumers should continue to use their CO detectors with confidence.

Underwriters' Laboratories of Canada (ULC) is an independent, not-for-profit Canadian safety, certification, testing, quality registration, and standards development organization dedicated entirely to the protection of life and property. Headquartered in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, ULC uses modern, fully equipped testing laboratories to investigate devices and materials as to their relation to life, fire or accident hazards, or their value in crime prevention, and to providing authoritative information to inspection authorities. ULC is affiliated with Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) in the United States and is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada, under the National Standards System, as a: Certification Organization; Testing Organization; Quality Registration Organization (ISO 9000); and Standards Development.


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