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Older Houseboat Generators Pose Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Risk

By Ross Jurewitz on July 14, 2014

New research published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene warns that older generators used in houseboats can lead to potentially life-threatening carbon monoxide poisoning.

The study, conducted by researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), reported that older generators can release carbon monoxide levels in excess of 1,200 parts per million (ppm). To get an idea of the gravity of the situation, just consider that a carbon monoxide level of 36 to 99 ppm is considered high. NIOSH’s limit for carbon monoxide emissions at a workplace is 200 ppm.

The report indicates that individuals swimming or working under the swim deck, or around it (near water level) could experience carbon monoxide poisoning or death within a few minutes if the gas-powered generators and/or the drive engines are running.

The deputy chief of the Engineering and Physical Hazards branch of the NIOSH Division of Applied Research and Technology said, “Houseboats that exhaust uncontrolled generator combustion gases beneath or near the rear deck indicated that extremely hazardous carbon monoxide concentrations can accumulate in that area.”

This news is not new. In 2000, NIOSH investigated houseboat generators. Its findings convinced two of the largest manufacturers of marine generators to voluntarily manufacture low carbon monoxide emitting generators. These generators, which were introduced in 2004 and 2005, cut emission concentrations by 99 percent in occupied areas and around the boats.

In 2009, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enacted regulations on generators that have led to the manufacture of generators that emit significantly less carbon monoxide.

Still, many houseboats running the more dangerous pre-regulation generators are still out there.

Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that has no smell, color or taste. Exposure to carbon monoxide is the leading cause of fatal poisonings in the United States (430 deaths each year). Some 40,000 people are injured due to carbon monoxide poisoning each year.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning due to a defective or dangerous generator or heating unit, contact the Jurewitz Law Group in San Diego toll-free at (888) 233-5020 or contact us online. Learn what your legal rights are today.

Ross Jurewitz

Ross Jurewitz is the founder and managing lawyer of the Jurewitz Law Group, a San Diego personal injury attorney law firm. These San Diego injury accident lawyers specialize in helping people seriously injured in a variety of accidents throughout San Diego County and California.

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