By: Junio Valerio Songa
On Tuesday 5th of October 2010, the Edinburgh City Council development sub-committee ruled in favour of the installation of carbon monoxide monitors in 18,000 Edinburgh homes. The manouvre, which is going to cost £400,000 comes in the wake of a 2007 report which stated that over 2.000 council houses did not have a valid gas safety certificate.
Carbon monoxide, which is produced by the incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels, is an odourless, colourless and tasteless gas that affects the organism by blocking the delivery of oxygen to bodily tissues and is responsible for over 50 deaths per year in the UK.
Faulty gas appliances, such as radiators, heaters or blocked chimneys can exhale carbon monoxide. Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Mac Armstrong warns about the dangers of faulty appliances, stating that “The early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can resemble those of cold and flu… continuing or higher exposure levels can however result in lasting neurological damage or death.”
In 1996 Dunfermilne Athletic player Norman “Norrie” McCathie famously died together with his girlfriend Amanda Burns at his home in Fife as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Although there have not been any deaths in Edinburgh this year, the council introduced the monitors in an effort to improve the safety of its citizens. According to Councillor Paul Edie, Housing leader for Edinburgh, “Whilst there have been no deaths in our council homes attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning I am sure our tenants will welcome this additional safety measure by putting their safety first.”
The monitors, which are known for their reliability, will require to be replaced every six years, this will cost an average of £60.000. It will be the tenant’s responsibility to carry out regular tests to ensure that the detectors continue to operate. According to a council report the funding of this project will not impact on existing investments and “the scale of the cost is considered acceptable given the safety benefits gained by each home having the safety device fitted.”
However carbon monoxide detectors, while providing an enhanced safety measure, are to be supported by an effective gas servicing regime.