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1802RE: [occ-env-med-l] CPSC / USA.gov Poster on Carbon Monoxide exposure

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  • Andrew Cutz
    Feb 15, 2014
      Saturday, February 15, 2014

      Albert Donnay, MHS
      Consulting Toxicologist, CO Analyst
      and Environmental Health Engineer

      Hello Al!

      Please try to contact them directly... no doubt public's perception is an important issue and should be of concern.


      Andrew Cutz

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      FURTHER TO...

      Date: Fri, 14 Feb 2014 20:38:29 -0500
      Subject: Re: [occ-env-med-l] CPSC / USA.gov Poster on Carbon Monoxide exposure
      From: adonnay@...
      To: Occ-Env-Med-L@...
      CC: andrewcutz@...

      While it's great to see CPSC trying to warn the public about the risk of death from CO poisoning posed by portable generators, the text and layout of this poster [below] are so misleading that it should be taken down immediately from CPSC's blogCPSC's Flickr page and the USA.gov blog -- and not reposted until corrected. 

      The problem with the layout is that the key message -- 

                "don't run your generator inside, either" 

      is split into "don't" at the end of one line and 

               "run your generator inside, either" 

      on the line below. 

      From a distance and at a glance, it appears CPSC is instructing

       people to do the very thing its trying to stop, namely:
      "run your generator inside" ! 

      The problem with the message itself is that the analogy presented is false:

                  "You don't run your car indoors" 

      This is contrary to the experience of millions of Americans who start their vehicles in attached garages--which the National Association of Home Builders estimates more than 75% of single family homes now have. 

      These people DO run their cars indoors -- every time they start them and drive out, as well as every time they drive back in.   
      And most of them think it is perfectly safe to do so as long as the garage door is open. (As discussed below, this is not safe because the garage is just another room in their house.*)

      They may well think is safe to run a generator in their garage in the same way. 

      Since CPSC already warns people on its CO Safety webpage  to:

                  "Never leave a car running in an attached garage, 
                  even with the garage door open." 

      this poster should be re-issued with a picture of a generator 
      and a similarly straightforward and unambiguous message:

                "Never run a generator indoors, 
                even in an attached garage with the door wide open."

      There is no need to make any analogies, true or false.

      Albert Donnay, MHS
      Consulting Toxicologist, CO Analyst
      and Environmental Health Engineer

      * CPSC may not know this since it does not regulate automobiles 
      or attached garages, but even if cars are run only for a minute 
      before driven out, the concentration of CO in their exhaust
      during cold starts is in the range of 10,000 to 30,000 parts per
      million [ppm], compared to less than 300ppm after the 

      catalytic converter has warmed up. 


      And even if the garage door is left wide during cold starts, 

      hundreds to thousands of ppm of CO remain inside after the
      car is driven out and the door closed, especially in winter

      Unless the garage has an exhaust fan like a commercial
      parking garage —which most don’t, even though 100 cfm/vehicle 

      of continuous exhaust are required in residential attached garages 

      by section 403.3 of the International Mechanical Code—

      the CO trapped inside will gradually diffuse over the next 

      several hours into whatever rooms are adjacent as well as any 

      directly above or below. 

      The inevitable result is that high levels of CO--over 100ppm--

      are commonly distributed throughout the house which then 

      take hours more to return to baseline, all the while poisoning
      any people and pets who may be in the home.

      Subject: USA.gov Blog Daily Update
      Date: Thu, 13 Feb 2014 15:17:02 -0600
      From: subscriptions@...

      02/13/2014 10:00 AM EST

      Image description: Large parts of the country are experiencing power outages as a result of winter weather storms. If you’re using a portable back-up generator, make sure you run it outside to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
      To make sure you’re operating your generator safely:
      • Use it outside the house or garage
      • Keep it at least 20 feet away from windows, doors and vents
      • Use a battery operated CO detector outside bedrooms.
      • Never ignored a be[ep]ing CO detector. Go outside and call 911 if the alarm sounds.
      Learn more about operating your portable generator safely from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.