The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed legislation that would establish legal standards for carbon monoxide (CO) detectors and encourage their use.


The “Residential Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act” (H.R. 1796) from Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, would direct the Consumer Product Safety Commission to publish standards for CO detectors and would prohibit the distribution of any detector that does not meet those standards. In addition, it would establish a federal grant program to provide funds to states that enact CO detection requirements to be used for the installation of alarms in the homes of vulnerable populations, public education, and training of fire code enforcement officials and authorize $10 million over the next five years for the program.


Carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas that is produced when a fossil fuel is incompletely burned, claims more than 400 lives in the United States each year and sends 20,000 people to the hospital.


The bill is a legislative priority of the Security Industry Association (SIA), the organization stated in a press release.


“We are very pleased by today’s House vote, and we thank Congressman Matheson for his leadership on this issue,” SIA director of government relations Don Erickson said. “Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States, and this bill will expand the use of life-saving detectors and ensure that the devices that millions of people rely upon meet high standards for quality and reliability.”


SIA has worked with the National Electrical Manufacturers Association and the Electronic Security Association to advocate for the bill. The three organizations wrote to lawmakers in March to express support for the legislation’s efforts “to protect against the deadly assassin known as carbon monoxide.” 


The bill now goes to the Senate. A related bill introduced in that chamber in June 2009 has not been acted upon.