Products Liability Law Daily Comment period for ANPR pertaining to residential gas furnaces and boilers reopened
Thursday, November 7, 2019

Comment period for ANPR pertaining to residential gas furnaces and boilers reopened

By Colleen Kave, J.D.

Industry stakeholders requested additional time to finalize their comments.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reopened the comment period for an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) addressing the risk of injury and death associated with carbon monoxide (CO) production and leakage from residential gas furnaces and boilers. The ANPR was published on August 19, 2019, with a 60-day comment period that closed on October 18, 2019 [see Products Liability Law Daily’s August 19, 2019 analysis]. However, based on a request from an industry stakeholder for an extension of the comment period, CPSC will allow an additional 60 days for submissions. The new deadline for comments is January 6, 2020 (CPSC Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking84 FR 60010, November 7, 2019).

Risk of injury. According to CPSC, in 2015, the most recent time period for which data are available, there were an estimated 175 unintentional, non-fire CO poisoning deaths associated with consumer products under the CPSC’s jurisdiction. Of that number, heating systems were associated with an estimated 37 (21 percent) of the deaths. Gas furnaces and boilers (liquefied petroleum, natural gas, and unspecified gas) were associated with the largest share of CO deaths (19 deaths or 51 percent) among heating systems and the second largest share (11 percent) among all consumer products. For the 11-year period, 2005 through 2015, gas furnaces accounted for 248 CO deaths (44 percent) among heating appliances, and 14 percent among all consumer products. CPSC staff estimated that annually there were about 1,850 gas furnace or boiler non-fire, CO-related injuries treated between 2013 and 2015 at U.S. hospital emergency departments. Based on this data, combined with estimates of medically attended injuries that were treated outside of hospital emergency departments, and using estimates from CPSC’s Injury Cost Model (ICM), staff estimated an annual average of 7,590 non-fire, CO-related injuries associated with gas furnaces and boilers between 2013 and 2015.

Regulatory alternatives. CPSC is considering several alternatives to address these risks. First, the agency could develop a mandatory standard under the CPSA establishing performance requirements and/or warnings and instructions for residential gas furnaces and boilers to prevent or reduce an unreasonable risk of death or injury associated with the production and leakage of CO from these products. CPSC also could continue to address the hazards through voluntary standards and work to develop more effective voluntary standard requirements to mitigate the identified hazards. Alternatively, CPSC could continue to rely on product recalls or information and education campaigns instead of promulgating a mandatory rule.

Request for extension of comment period. On October 14, 2019, the Air-Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) requested an extension of the comment period for an additional 60 days to provide stakeholders adequate time to respond to the ANPR. AHRI stated that member companies are currently developing comments to submit on the proposal. Moreover, the CSA/ANSI Cross-Functional Working Group on CO Sensor Detectors report was an agenda item during a Joint Technical Committee meeting on October 29, 2019, and AHRI members wanted to understand the Joint Technical Committee’s decision on the report and proposed actions before finalizing their comments.

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