On June 22, 2011, the Pennsylvania Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee held public hearings on mandating carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in residential homes.
The committee received testimony on the Carbon Monoxide Alarm Standards Act, introduced by State Sen. Pat Browne (RLehigh). Senate Bill 920 would require homeowners, upon the sale of their home, to demonstrate the home is equipped with a CO alarm.
For the past several years, Pennsylvania has had the highest number of accidental CO poisoning deaths in the country. Because the gas is odorless, colorless and tasteless, CO alarms are the only safe way to know if carbon monoxide is present in a home and will alert residents to its presence before it becomes harmful or fatal. CO poisoning kills about 500 people and sends more than 15,000 people to emergency rooms annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The requirements of the law would apply only to homes and multifamily dwellings (such as apartments) that have fossil fuelburning heaters or appliances and/or an attached garage. Apartments would be required to install an alarm following the law's effective date.
Alarms could be installed via hard-wiring, plugged directly into an electrical outlet or be a battery-powered device. Enforcement would occur at the point-of-sale of the residential structure. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 83 percent of Pennsylvania housing uses some form of fossil fuel-burning heating, which can generate CO. CO incidents occur more frequently in colder weather, mainly due to the increased use of fuel-burning heating systems, fireplaces and gas generators.
SB 920 is currently awaiting action by the Senate Urban Affairs & Housing Committee.