EuChemS calls for Eradication of Accidental CO Poisoning for Safer Tourism

Nov 19, 2015

Yesterday, at the round-table “What next for tourism accommodation safety in the EU?” EuChemS called on the European Commission to eradicate accidental CO poisoning to increase tourism safety. One key part of tourism safety concerns safety in holiday homes and reducing the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can arise through faulty boilers. 

During this round-table at the European Parliament chaired by MEP Linda McAvan, MEP Catherine Stihler read a statement by EuChemS President David Cole-Hamilton:
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Over 2000 people die of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in the EU every year. Using CO alarms and evacuating the area can prevent almost all of these unnecessary deaths. The European Union has a special duty of care in holiday homes where citizens of one member state are staying in a different one[/gdlr_quote]

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas which cannot be detected by humans. It is deadly because it binds to haemoglobin in the blood and prevents oxygen from being transported around the blood stream and into the brain. Initially the patient appears pink then reports headaches and soon passes out and dies. Caught early, carbon monoxide poisoning can be reversed by simply removing the patient from the source and allowing her/him to breathe clan air. Later, oxygen may be effective.

In the period 1980-2008, the average number of deaths per year from CO poisoning in the EC was > 4000,[1, 2] of which rather more than half are believed to be accidental. The rest were as a result of suicide or homicide.

This means that >2000 people die needlessly in Europe every year (> 5 per day). Many of these deaths could be prevented by the installation of alarms that cost nearly nothing and are easily installed.

We call on the European Commission to do all that it can to eradicate this needless waste of life.

Data from:

1.            Mortality associated with exposure to carbon monoxide in WHO European Member States, M. Braubach, A. Algoet, M. Beaton, S. Lauriou, M. E. Heroux, and M. Krzyzanowski, Indoor Air, 2013, 23, 115-125.

2.            Fatal unintentional non-fire-related carbon monoxide poisoning: England and Wales, 1979-2012.D. S. Fisher, G. Leonardi, and R. J. Flanagan, Clinical Toxicology, 2014, 52, 166-170.