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Health Education: Carbon Monoxide

Volume 458: debated on Wednesday 14 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps her Department is taking to raise awareness of carbon monoxide poisoning; and if she will make a statement. (125858)

I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave my hon. Friend, the Member for Dudley, North (Mr. Austin) on 30 November 2006, Official Report, columns 911-12W.

The Department is committed to help prevent deaths caused by carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and raise awareness of the dangers of CO poisoning. Specific recent actions to achieve this include publications to increase awareness of medical staff and the public.

In his January 2006 update, which is sent to all doctors registered with the General Medical Council in England, including hospital and A & E doctors, and copied to the devolved Administrations for information, the chief medical officer (CMO) provides advice to doctors on CO poisoning, which is available in the Library. CMO updates are also available on the Department’s website at: Circulars/CMOUpdate/CMOUpdateArticle/fs/en?CONTENT_ID=4126235&chk=y6qnQn

The Department has produced a public information leaflet “Indoor air pollution—Carbon monoxide. Risks to health and how to avoid them,” distributed early in 2006 to all general practitioners surgeries in England, which provides information on the symptoms of CO poisoning, ways in which to prevent poisoning and the contact details of organisations and other Government Departments involved with the prevention of CO poisoning. This leaflet has been endorsed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Scheme, the Council for Registered Gas Installers (CORGI), the national voluntary organisation CO-Gas Safety, the Solid Fuel Association, and the national health service, and includes the CORGI emergency helpline. The leaflet, which is available in the Library, is also available free, from the Department’s publication stores and on the Department’s website at: PolicyAndGuidanceArticle/fs/en?CONTENT_ID=4123787&chk=sAoYSp

The Department has produced a booklet “Keep Warm Keep Well, a winter guide 2006-07”, which among many subjects, contains useful advice on the maintenance of heating appliances and protection from CO poisoning, which is available in the Library. This has been widely distributed and is also available from the Department’s publication stores and on the Department’s website at:

The Department is also funding a national voluntary organisation, CO-Gas Safety, through the section 64 General Scheme of Grants, in its work in raising awareness about the dangers of carbon monoxide.

As part of the HSE’s “Review of Domestic Gas Safety”, a cross-Government group, which includes officials from my Department, has been set up to consolidate the valuable work that is being done, and to help further raise awareness, particularly through encouraging greater co-ordinated industry actions.