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CPSC Approves ANPR to Make Portable Generators Safer

December 10, 2006

CPSC Approves ANPR to Make Portable Generators Safer
Rulemaking Aims to Address Rising Death Toll

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) unanimously approved (2-0) an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) to address safety hazards associated with portable generators.

Chief among the safety hazards is carbon monoxide (CO) exhaust from gasoline-powered generators which is highly poisonous and can overcome and kill consumers in minutes when a generator is used indoors.

CO deaths associated with generators have spiked in recent years as generator sales have risen. In 1999, generators were associated with 6% of the total yearly estimated CO poisoning deaths associated with all consumer products compared to 24% in 2002. There were at least 64 deaths in 2005 alone from CO poisoning associated with generators.

“These are preventable deaths,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Nancy Nord. “We need to determine if additional measures can be taken to make generators safer to use. We must reverse the rising death toll from carbon monoxide associated with generators.”

The ANPR cites several possible strategies to reduce consumers’ exposure to carbon monoxide, including generator engines with substantially reduced CO emissions and interlocking or automatic shutoff devices.

Additional strategies to address CO and other hazards include weatherization requirements, theft deterrence and noise reduction. These measures are intended to enable and encourage consumers to use generators outdoors and properly placed far away from their homes.

As part of a separate rulemaking, the Commission is considering a mandatory warning label for generators. Earlier this year, the Commission proposed a rule requiring a new warning label warning that a generator’s exhaust contains poisonous carbon monoxide and that a generator should NEVER be used inside the home or in a partially-enclosed area such as a garage.

The ANPR will be published in the Federal Register in the next few weeks. Following publication, the public will have 60 days to provide comments to the Commission. Comments can be submitted to CPSC’s Office of the Secretary at Entire story

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