ASHRAE Wants Carbon Monoxide Alarms in Homes

The proposed change to ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.2-2007, Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality in Low-Rise Residential Buildings, would require them to be installed outside each sleeping area. Comments are due by Oct. 26.

ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, is proposing a change to ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.2-2007, Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality in Low-Rise Residential Buildings, that would require carbon monoxide alarms to be installed outside each sleeping area in a home. Comments are due by Oct. 26 on the proposal, which will bring ASHRAE's residential ventilation and indoor air quality standard closer in line with the 2009 International Residential Code.

Nine other changes unrelated to CO also are open for review. Steve Emmerich, chair of the Standard 62.2 Committee, said the standard will become more widely used as a result of its adoption into building codes and green building programs, and several clarifications are being addressed in the proposed changes.

CO poisoning causes hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries in homes every year, mainly from motor vehicles left running in attached garages but also from portable generators, power tools, and heaters, Emmerich said. A small fraction of poisonings also result from failed central heating combustion appliances. "Residents have very little ability to sense the presence of CO without detectors, unlike many other indoor polluting events," he said.

Including a CO alarm requirement in the standard has been discussed since the standard was first proposed, and the committee decided the time has come to make the change, Emmerich said. The 2009 International Residential Code requires alarms if the house has combustion appliances or attached garages, and many states require CO alarms.

"This proposed requirement goes a step further, expanding the protection to all homes, regardless of fuel type or garage configuration, reflecting the fact that many CO exposures occur due to causes completely independent of these factors," he said. "It also requires that alarms be hard-wired with battery backup to address an increased likelihood of high CO exposure events during power outages."

To view a copy of the addenda open for public review, go to www.ashrae.org/publicreviews.

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