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Carbon Monoxide

Volume 402: debated on Thursday 3 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) deaths, (b) injuries and (c) illnesses have been attributed to carbon monoxide in the (i) UK and (ii) south-west region in each of the past 10 years; and what action the Government has taken, or plans, to reduce the number of people harmed by carbon monoxide. [104883]

The total number of deaths per year, due to carbon monoxide poisoning of any cause (including suicide) in England has declined from 1,419 in 1992 to 441 in 2001 and in the south-west region has declined from 181 in 1992 to 62 in 2001. A breakdown of the figures for each of the last 10 years has been placed in the Library.Figures relating to Scotland and Wales are a matter for the devolved administrations. Whilst the institutions in Northern Ireland are suspended, responsibility lies with the Minister for the Northern Ireland office.Unpublished research commissioned by the Department for Trade and Industry has suggested that between 42 and 57 deaths a year in the United Kingdom are the result of carbon monoxide poisoning from domestic appliances. A breakdown for each of the last ten years is shown in the table. This information is not available for the south-west region.

Deaths in the UK from poisoning in the home by carbon monoxide from domestic appliances in 1990–99
Number of deaths
In 2002, the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Nursing Officer at the Department of Health issued a letter to community nurses, midwives, health visitors and general practitioners to encourage recognition of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. The Department of Health has also commissioned research on the health effects of carbon monoxide.Following a fundamental review of gas safety by the Health and Safety Commission completed in 2000, HSC has set a target of a minimum 20 per cent. reduction in gas-related fatalities over a 10-year average; this includes those caused by CO poisoning (75 per cent. of all gas fatalities).Measures being taken forward include: improving the public's safety awareness through advice and publicity; driving up gas installers' standards of work by introducing completion certificates to be given to consumers; changes to gas safety enforcement responsibilities and changes to the duties of gas emergency service providers.