Congressman Jim Matheson has re-introduced bipartisan legislation to increase the use of life-saving carbon monoxide alarms. The Residential Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act is cosponsored by two Democrats and three Republicans in the House. The same legislation was approved by the House of Representatives in the last session of Congress, but the Senate did not vote on the bill.
"Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in this country," said Matheson. "There's a simple way to lower that number--installation of carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in homes and residences."
Matheson's bill sets up a grant program--administered by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)--for the states, if they enact a rule or law requiring all dwelling units and apartment buildings to have carbon monoxide alarms. States with greater than average fatalities from CO poisoning and those serving vulnerable populations, such as children or seniors, would be given priority.
At an earlier Congressional hearing on the issue, an official with CPSC testified that only 35 to 50 percent of U.S. households have CO alarms. He said that working with state and local authorities is critical to amplifying the message on the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, CO poisoning kills 500 people annually in the U.S. and sends an additional 20,000 to the hospital. The University of Utah recently reported that Utah experienced 273 cases of CO poisoning and 22 deaths.