Study highlights links between carbon monoxide and fossil fuels

New study reveals a lack of awareness among consumers about the link between fossil fuels and carbon monoxide

Eoin Clarke
by Eoin Clarke on 24th September, 2013

According to results of a new study commissioned by Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week, it appears that many consumers are still blissfully unaware of the dangers lurking as a result of boiling fossil fuels.

On average, six people in Ireland die every year from Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning, while only one in three people questioned were aware that oil and gas produce CO when burned.

The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) has launched its latest initiative to highlight the dangers of the highly poisonous, colourless and smell-free gas.

When carbon-based fossil fuels do not have enough Oxygen to burn completely, CO is formed and exposure for a period of time can kill.

It prevents the body from absorbing oxygen and symptoms can include headaches, chest pains, sickness, diarrhoea and dizziness. Anyone who fears that they may have CO poisoning should contact a doctor immediately.

Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week is part of a public safety initiative organised by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) and supported by public bodies and organisations involved in the energy sector. The annual initiative will be held between September 23rd and September 29th this year.

The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte, launched the results of the research and highlighted the importance of people recognising the dangers associated with burning fuels.

“Fossil fuels bring us huge benefits, from making some of the electricity that we depend on for so many activities, to heating and cooking in our homes,” he said.

“But, they can be so dangerous if not burned safely. I hope that this week’s campaign will help raise awareness of the dangers and save lives.”

The study showed that only one in four people were aware that burning coal, kerosene and bottled gas produced CO when burned while only one in five knew of the same dangers relating to burning peat and charcoal.

Perhaps more worryingly, only one in seven was aware that burning wood and wood pellets produces the gas.

Dr. Paul McGowan, CER Commissioner said: “This research shows that everyone needs to be more “aware that every fossil fuel when burned has the potential to produce CO.

“CO poses a very real threat to people’s lives. Regular appliance servicing and keeping vents, flues and chimneys clear are extremely important to ensure the safety of family members and loved ones.”