Carbon Monoxide Safety Coalition
What We Aim to Accomplish
The Coalition will bring together professionals, survivors, advocates, and more from every sector that is touched by carbon monoxide poisoning. We will work together to impact codes & standards, regulation, products, public awareness, and more.
Membership in the Coalition is free and is open to professionals, survivors, advocates, and others who wish to work towards an end to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Why is the Coalition Important?
Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a public health crisis affecting as many as 1 in 6 homes. Despite carbon monoxide poisoning being a leading cause of poisoning in the United States, accounting for hundreds of deaths and more than 50,000 emergency room visits each year (CDC), very little attention has been paid to this dangerous threat. Furthermore, the annual number of carbon monoxide poisonings in the US is likely significantly higher than estimated due to the imperceptible nature of carbon monoxide, the wide array of carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms, and a lack of robust diagnostic tools. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless non-irritating gas that is imperceptible to human senses. Health effects of carbon monoxide poisoning range from mild symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, headache, confusion, and nausea to more severe symptoms such as disorientation, unconsciousness, long-term neurological disabilities, coma, cardiorespiratory failure, and death.
The Carbon Monoxide Safety Coalition is a first-of-its-kind effort to bring all sectors together to tackle carbon monoxide poisoning injury and death. Through the Coalition, we will tackle important issues such as public awareness, codes, standards, regulations, gathering surveillance data, improving diagnostics and treatment, supporting survivors, and conducting research. Everyone involved in the Coalition will have a voice in this work, from researchers to survivors, advocates, manufacturers, government agencies, and legislators. Together, we will work toward zero injuries and deaths due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
We will accomplish our work through Work Groups that will meet approximately once per quarter. We also plan to bring all Coalition members together for annual virtual and face-to-face meetings to discuss our shared priorities, visions for success, evaluation measures and to celebrate our successes. Coalition members and others will also have the opportunity to attend webinars where they can learn more about the challenges and issues related to carbon monoxide safety.
We ask that you commit to at least attending one Work Group meeting per quarter (approximately 60 minutes per call). Because the work of the Coalition will be carried out by its members, members can expect to spend a total of 2-3 hours per quarter attending Work Group meetings and carrying out tasks discussed in those meetings.
If you would like to lead a Coalition Work Group, you and your co-chair would be responsible for planning the quarterly meetings, setting goals, coordinating work done by members, and reporting to the Coalition Steering Committee on activities, challenges, and successes. We anticipate that this would add about 1-2 hours of work per month to your time commitment.
The Advisory Committee
The Advisory Committee meets monthly and is responsible for recommending overall goals, priorities, strategies, and structure for the Coalition. They set temporary Work Group co-chairs and annual goals. The co-chairs then discuss these goals with each of their respective Work Groups.
You can learn more about the Work Groups and their initial goals below. While the Coalition is member-led and member-driven, NCOAA is the lead agency coordinating the activities of the Coalition, and the Coalition Advisory Committee reports to the NCOAA Board of Directors.
Science & Innovation Work Group
The lack of robust diagnostics and effective treatments leaves many carbon monoxide victims and survivors unaware that they have been poisoned. If diagnosed, they are faced with insufficient therapies to address the complex health issues they may now face as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. This working group will examine new technologies for improving diagnostic testing and review new therapies currently under research. They will amplify the voices of survivors and victims who interface with the medical system and are often left with more questions than answers. Their goal for the first year is to Coordinate research with CORT, Collaborate with other working groups on prevalence studies, and publish medical journals, such as the American Journal of Public Health.
Emergency Response Work Group
Firefighters, EMTs, and police officers are often the ones who respond when a carbon monoxide leak has occurred; however, they receive little to no training on how to address CO-related calls. This working group will initially focus on training first responders, particularly those in the fire service, in order to raise awareness of CO-related issues, increase the use of carbon monoxide meters, and improve rehabilitation for those who may be poisoned on the job. Our goal for the first year is to launch “Protect the Protectors,” a training and data collection program for firefighters. We will pilot the program in Michigan and take lessons learned for scaling the program nationally and across first responder professions.
Industry Work Group
“Industry individuals” are those who show up after a carbon monoxide leak has been identified, such as HVAC technicians, contractors, and utility companies. However, these “second responders” are also often the first line of defense for preventing carbon monoxide leaks from occurring in the first place. They are the ones who ensure appliances are properly vented at installation and repair of faulty appliances. In the UK, these professionals are required to take a thorough carbon monoxide safety course in order to be professionally licensed, but because the US has no such requirement, many of these professionals are unaware of the dangers posed by carbon monoxide. In our first year, we aim to determine areas where we can make the biggest impact in changing behavior and equipment use amongst contractors. We will also define global practices, equipment, and data practices.
Codes, Standards and Regulations Work Group
Codes, standards, and regulations have the power to affect systemic change by requiring cities, states, and industries to abide by certain rules. From a legislative perspective, cities and states may choose to adopt certain codes for carbon monoxide alarms in commercial and residential buildings, for instance. While NCOAA and the Coalition will not actively be involved in lobbying, we will help shape the codes, standards, and regulations that may be adopted by legislative bodies. Some issues we’re monitoring include fuel shut-offs on gas furnaces, improving health safety standards on gas ranges, and the addition of carbon monoxide alarm standards for existing commercial buildings, including hotels and motels beginning in 2024. Our goal for the first year will simply be to collect information about the various codes, standards, and regulations that are currently under consideration or will soon be coming up for review. We will serve as a repository for this information and, with time, have a strong voice in shaping these decisions.
Data/Surveillance Work Group
One of the greatest challenges related to carbon monoxide safety is that the surveillance data collected on carbon monoxide injuries and deaths is fragmented and incomplete. There is no national surveillance system that specifically monitors carbon monoxide poisoning, resulting in significant underreporting of deaths and injuries in the US. We must improve data collection and analysis of carbon monoxide poisoning in order to effectively advocate for change. This working group will review existing data sources, make recommendations for changes to the reporting systems, and conduct or support independent research on carbon monoxide poisoning prevalence. Our goal for the first year is to support research on the prevalence of carbon monoxide poisoning.