U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, member of the Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance, held a hearing in December that called attention to the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and highlighted ways to address this growing problem. Klobuchar and the panelists, including Cheryl Burt from Rochester, MN, discussed improving safety standards for carbon monoxide detectors and incentivizing states to reduce carbon monoxide fatalities.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and highly toxic gas. It is a silent killer that prevents oxygen from being used by your body. Carbon monoxide is poisonous and can harm your central nervous system. Every year carbon monoxide claims hundreds of lives and sends over 50,000 poisoning victims to emergency rooms.

“It’s time to sound the alarm on this silent killer,” said Klobuchar. “In Minnesota and across the country, winter temperatures arrived a few weeks ago, and home furnaces, fireplaces and chimneys will be getting a good work-out over the next several months. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning from ever happening, we need to give people the means and the knowledge to protect themselves against this danger.”

Klobuchar also discussed legislation that she introduced earlier this year to prevent deaths and injuries from carbon monoxide poisoning. The Residential Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act, modeled after successful similar legislation in Minnesota, would require the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to strengthen the safety standards for all carbon monoxide alarms sold in the United States.

From January 5-7, 2010, the Carbon Monoxide Safety Association (COSA) facilitated three days of training for the Energy Division of the Minnesota Department of Commerce to around 40 energy auditors at the Wadena campus of Minnesota State Community and Technical College. The energy auditors will be assessing eligible homes for approved energy conservation measures that will help reduce individual fuel costs as well as collectively reduce overall energy demands and controversial emissions of combustion gases into the atmosphere.

COSA instructors have been working with weatherization programs from around the country for decades and pointed out Minnesota last September for its resolve in administering not only continuing education but also workplace development opportunities in energy conservation. Additionally noteworthy is that this program provides the avenues for U.S. manufacturers of energy-related products to have their products purchased and installed by skilled service providers and then inspected by trained personnel to ensure the products are installed correctly, are durable, substantiate energy-efficiency gains and that the measures do not adversely affect indoor air quality.

Alan “Lindy” Linda, the instructor from the Wadena HVACR Department, led participants through his lab where the functions of thermostats, gas valves, combustion analyzers and many more heating dynamics were discussed and demonstrated. Bob Dwyer, COSA instructor and Director of Training, said, “Lindy did a great job. He is used to teaching technicians who will not only install new systems but who will troubleshoot problems and fix them as part of their careers…This cooperation between the local technical college program, the state-wide weatherization program, the support of their senator and those growing number of consumers who have recognized carbon monoxide poisoning as an everyday threat can only help strengthen the resolve to reduce death and injury.”

For more information about COSA, visit www.cosafety.org or call 800-394-5253.