Why does everyone “Point to Gas” as a CO Problem, and say Nothing about Oil Heating and CO?

Subject:  Carbon Monoxide in oil burners

If oil burners produce CO, why is the focus so strong on gas burners as the source of CO?

Thanks for any input!

J. S.


Subject: Carbon Monoxide in oil fired equipment

Thank you for your question.

There are a number of factors that must be considered in fully answering this question, some of which, quite frankly, are more than just a little difficult to understand.

90% + of the “Data” still being used in CO discussions, is Data that CPSC compiled Prior to the original “Kick-Off” of their “CO Priority Project” Safety Campaign in 1992-93.
CSPC can only “Call it a CO Death”, if Carbon Monoxide Poisoning is listed as the “Only” cause of Death on the Death Certificate.
CSPC can not “Speak To” CO Deaths related to Vehicles.
Now, with that as a “Background”, let’s review one of the CPSC Charts used in developing their “Priority” approach on CO Safety Education.  This chart was widely circulated in 1996-97.

In the Ten Year Period from 1982 to 1992:

2236 CO Deaths were “Related” to Gas Appliances.
100 Deaths were “Related” to Oil Appliances
GUESS WHAT, …..during those SAME YEARS,….. 334 DIED as a Result of CHARCOAL GRILLS !

A couple of Obvious Considerations are:

Nationwide, FAR more homes use Gas, than use Oil, not only for HEAT, but for many other appliances.  Therefore, the Total Potential for Exposure is Greater.
IN GENERAL, Oil Heat is used Primarily in the Northeast, and in the Northeast as well as some other areas in the countryside, the majority of the Homes using Oil are Older Homes, ….which overall tend to be Less “Airtight”.
While, as we all Should Know by now, you can Not “Smell” the CO, “Other Properties” produced in a Poorly Functioning Oil Heating System, Create a lot more “SMELL” than does a Gas Appliance.  This may not only lead to Greater, or Quicker awareness of an adjustment problem with the system, but may also induce the occupant to open doors or windows more Quickly to Ventilate.
Continual Denial of people in the Oil Heat Industry to ADMIT that a “Potential” CO problem “Could Exist, instead of using it as a Potential Revenue Source to generate more “Service Work”.
I personally believe that this “Attitude” is the main reason for the shortage of truly qualified oil burner technicians.  A problem VERY similar to what we are experiencing in the Propane Gas Industry.  I live near the North County Line in Laclede County, Missouri, where we have NO Natural Gas.  Propane Gas is VERY BIG around here, actually having been the HOME Office of a Major Propane Gas Supplier for many, many years and I can assure you that in most cases, your Delivery Man is your only Service Technician available.

I believe that their “Lack of Concern” is one of the main reasons that the State of Missouri recently recorded 34 CO Deaths in a Year.

What EVERYONE really needs to Understand is that CO from ANY SOURCE …. CAN KILL YOU !!!

ANNUAL Heating System Inspections/Tune-ups, SHOULD be Mandated BY LAW, like an Inspection Sticker on a Car is required in many States, and should be REQUIRED before Homeowner’s Insurance can be Written or Renewed.

However, having said that, the ONLY WAY to be TRULY PROTECTED is to have a dependable CO Detection Product in your Home or Workplace, that will Warn You 24 Hours a Day, 365 Days a Year.  A vent can separate in a split second, a bird or squirrel can decide to build a nest in your Chimney, or a dozen other dangerous things can happen, just one day after an Inspection.

Again, I thank you for your question and hope that I have been of some help.

Best Regards, ……………. George



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