Key findings of the report are:
- Households suffering in cold homes are also at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Elevated CO levels greater than 10 ppm were recorded in 35% of monitored homes. Above this threshold, prolonged exposure can have negative health effects.
- Fuel poverty characteristics are present in a number of these homes. In particular, low income households in the study were more likely to be reliant on gas fires to keep warm. These appliances were generally older and had not been maintained.
- In one example, fuel poor private renters in a deprived area of Leeds recorded 361 higher CO readings over a period of only two months. The occupants were using their gas fire for heating because they could not afford to run the central heating. No CO alarm was fitted in the property and across all households only 35% of homes had alarms installed.
- Some households in financial vulnerability or living in poor quality housing are also resorting to using their gas cookers for room heating. In one example, a pensioner over 75 and living alone was suffering from very bad headaches until her gas wall heater was identified as a source of CO poisoning and condemned. She could not afford to replace the heater and now relies on her gas oven for warmth.