Harrisburg – February 28, 2011 – Sen. Jim Brewster has introduced legislation that would require most buildings to have a working carbon monoxide (CO) alarm system.

“Installing and maintaining a reliable CO alarm system saves lives,” Brewster said. “It is inexpensive and alerts residents before lethal levels of CO can accumulate in their homes.”

Carbon monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America. More than 20,000 people are hospitalized and about 450 people, in the United States, die annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2007, Pennsylvania led the nation in CO fatalities.

Often called the “silent killer,” CO is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill without someone even being aware of its presence. At lower levels of exposure, CO causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu. These symptoms include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue.

Senate Bill 542 would require residences that have fireplaces, fossil-burning heating systems or attached garages to have at least one CO alarm system. Owners/landlords would be responsible for equipping new buildings with CO alarms outside every bedroom. Residents/renters would be responsible for maintaining the alarms. Failure to install or maintain an alarm in operating condition would be a summary offense punishable by a fine of up to $50.

Former Sen. Sean Logan initially introduced the bill last summer. The Senate never acted on the measure.

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