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2003 News from Mecklenburg County

September 2, 2003


Charlotte, NC - The Mecklenburg County Health Department will ask the Board of County Commissioners at their meeting on Wednesday night to allow a public hearing on proposed changes to the current regulations regarding carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. 

The public hearing will allow Commissioners, who also serve as the Mecklenburg County Board of Health, to hear and consider any comments from the public on the proposed revisions to the ordinance.  If approved, the revised ordinance would become effective January 1, 2004 and will require all dwelling units in Mecklenburg County to have a carbon monoxide alarm. Alarms installed after this effective date must be battery powered or have a battery backup. 

The current Carbon Monoxide ordinance only requires CO alarms in residences with fossil fuel burning furnaces or appliances, or attached garages.  Commissioners will be asked to consider adopting the new ordinance regulations after the public hearing on September 16, 2003.

Recent CO poisonings have fueled the need for an expanded CO ordinance.  During one day in June, there were 16 people in eight attached apartments who had to be taken to the hospital after renters in one unit ran a gas-powered generator in an attached storage shed.  The apartments did not have gas appliances, so were not covered by the current ordinance.  Also, during December's ice storm, many people brought fuel- or charcoal-burning grills indoors to cook or heat their homes, resulting in hundreds of ambulance calls and hospital visits for CO poisoning.

Generators, charcoal or other fossil fuels burned indoors, or warming-up cars in enclosed, attached garages are all year-round sources of CO poisoning.  During a December ice storm, a number of patients were taken to area hospitals to be treated for CO exposure.  Many of these patients were reportedly using portable sources, gas or charcoal grills indoors to try and keep warm. 

Since the County's carbon monoxide ordinance took effect nearly two years ago, emergency calls for carbon monoxide danger have nearly tripled.

Carbon Monoxide is the number one cause of poisoning deaths in the United States, with more than 3,800 people known to die annually from CO poisoning.   Young children, pregnant women, senior citizens and people with heart or respiratory problems are especially vulnerable to CO poisoning.  Because CO is colorless, tasteless, odorless and non-irritating, it can overcome an exposed person without warning.

For more information about CO and the current County ordinance, log onto

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