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Topic Title: Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters
Topic Summary: How?
Created On: 20 October 2005 11:29 PM
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 20 October 2005 11:29 PM
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Avatar for sparkingchip.
sparkingchip

Posts: 6329
Joined: 18 January 2003

I have just read the posting about Gas applainces and fitting extractors, it reminded me of this:

Several years ago someone died of Carbon Monoxide poisioning due to a faultly ELECTRIC STORAGE HEATER, the Electrician who was involved with working on it was taken to court, but the prosecution failed and he was found not guilty of causing the death, because no one was aware that Electric storage heaters could develop a fault leading to the production of Carbon Monoxide.

But the Judge then stated that under the Law if it happened again then the Electrician and or others could be prosecuted, because as a result of this death and court case those involved with the fitting and maintaince of Electric storage heaters should know about it and could not claim ignorance of the matter.

My problem is no where did I ever see or hear how the carbon monoxide was produced, can anyone out ther enlighten me.
I must admit I haven't touched a Storage heater in the last couple of years as they seem to be go out of use, how everit won't hurt to know.

Andy.
 21 October 2005 12:33 AM
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Jimoldham

Posts: 1754
Joined: 29 November 2004

The saying Is:

Ignorance of the law is no excuse

by proving Precedence then the case for prosecution could hang on that whether it was correct or not unless proved otherwise.

In the real world. electrical Heating can not by default cause carbon monoxide posioning in any way shape or form if used correctly.

-------------------------
Regards

Jim Oldham
 21 October 2005 12:42 AM
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deleted_rcd2

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Joined: 21 September 2005

Would have thought the manufacturers had some responsibility to enlighten us if this is the case. I have to say I have never heard of this one but it does make you think, especially with winter just about to creep around the corner. Regards Alan
 21 October 2005 01:02 AM
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Jimoldham

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I give in on this one?

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Jim Oldham
 21 October 2005 08:25 AM
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normcall

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Ozone (O3 - I think) is not Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

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Norman
 21 October 2005 09:08 AM
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John Peckham

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Speaking as a former CORGI man I do remeber from my training that when natural gas is burned completely the products of combustion are Carbon Dioxide ( CO2) and water vapour (H2O). A correctly burning apliance will have a nice blue flame.You only get completre combustion if there is sufficent oxygen for the amount of fuel usually with a small excess for safety. If there is insuffiecent oxygen carbon monoxide (CO) and cabon (C) is generated.

This is usually due to insuffiecent ventilation or poor fluing causing visciation. This is where the flue gases cool, and instead of rising, descend down on to the flame depriving it of oxygen. This condition is evident with blackening around the appliance and flue (the carbon) and spillage of products of combustion including carbon monoxide in to the room. The appliance will burn will a wobly yellow flame.Whilst carbon dioxide, which will not support life (appart from plants), and water vapour generated by complete combustion are non toxic carbon monoxide is higly toxic and will cause nausia, sleepynes and eventually death as the blood becomes saturated with the gas.

Electric storage heaters are not directly burning fuel by combustion so they should not produce any products of combustion. I supose if they were full of fluf and lint through lack of cleaning the heating element may might cause this fluf to to smoulder generating very small amounts of CO.

Is this story true is is it one of those urban miths or folk law.

John Peckham

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John Peckham

http://www.astutetechnicalservices.co.uk/
 21 October 2005 11:17 AM
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normcall

Posts: 8175
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Isn't she up yet? It's many years since I had anything to do with chemistry, so I was hoping for a better answer than the pair of us guessing.
Anyway, don't NSH work mainly at night when we should all be in bed.

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Norman
 21 October 2005 10:00 PM
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gel

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This is HSE report:

HSE is keen to make electricians and engineers aware of the possibility of electric storage heaters being the source of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. This follows the tragic death of a Scarborough tenant who died of carbon monoxide poisoning. An electrician who had carried out work on the heater a few days prior to the fatality was prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter. The judge ruled that there was no case to answer on the grounds that the mechanism by which the CO was generated could not have been foreseen by the electrician.

Speaking of the case, Michael Stephenson, Principal Specialist Inspector (Electrical) HSE Yorkshire and North East said: "In most domestic cases of carbon monoxide poisoning that HSE investigates, the CO is produced by an incorrectly installed or maintained gas appliance. In this case, there were no gas appliances and not even a gas supply to the flats. The police requested HSE's assistance to determine the source of the CO."

Subsequent investigation revealed that an electric storage heater with a cast-iron core was the source of the killer gas.

Mr Stephenson continued: "There was evidence that a ducted air electric storage heater had overheated and reached excessively high temperatures resulting in a very rare case of CO poisoning from an electric appliance. Electricians must be aware of the potential for this to occur."

Mr Stephenson stressed: "Anyone working on electric storage heaters with cast-iron cores should be aware of the mechanism by which CO may be generated in sufficient quantities to cause death. This tragic event should serve to remind everyone of the possible consequences of shorting out or by-passing safety devices."

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Gel__Big Brother is here
 21 October 2005 10:05 PM
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Avatar for ebee.
ebee

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quote:

Originally posted by: gel
This is HSE report:

HSE is keen to make electricians and engineers aware of the possibility of electric storage heaters being the source of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. This follows the tragic death of a Scarborough tenant who died of carbon monoxide poisoning. An electrician who had carried out work on the heater a few days prior to the fatality was prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter. The judge ruled that there was no case to answer on the grounds that the mechanism by which the CO was generated could not have been foreseen by the electrician.

Speaking of the case, Michael Stephenson, Principal Specialist Inspector (Electrical) HSE Yorkshire and North East said: "In most domestic cases of carbon monoxide poisoning that HSE investigates, the CO is produced by an incorrectly installed or maintained gas appliance. In this case, there were no gas appliances and not even a gas supply to the flats. The police requested HSE's assistance to determine the source of the CO."

Subsequent investigation revealed that an electric storage heater with a cast-iron core was the source of the killer gas.

Mr Stephenson continued: "There was evidence that a ducted air electric storage heater had overheated and reached excessively high temperatures resulting in a very rare case of CO poisoning from an electric appliance. Electricians must be aware of the potential for this to occur."

Mr Stephenson stressed: "Anyone working on electric storage heaters with cast-iron cores should be aware of the mechanism by which CO may be generated in sufficient quantities to cause death. This tragic event should serve to remind everyone of the possible consequences of shorting out or by-passing safety devices."



Yes I remember that. Forgot the exact sequence of events but CO2 can be produced by Iron Storage heaters, not just gas appliances. Strange world innit?


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Ebee (M I S P N)

Knotted cables cause Lumpy Lektrik
 21 October 2005 10:31 PM
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Avatar for gel.
gel

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.CO

CO not CO2 = carbon monoxide by the way.

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Gel__Big Brother is here
 22 October 2005 01:18 PM
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deleted_CandG2330Student

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So are we saying from that report the electrician had shorted out the over temp trip, presumably because it had fired due to the normal temperature setting thermostat being welded shut or mechanically damaged or jammed.

If he wasn’t going to kill the tenant by this rare CO incident, he was probably going to burn the place down while he was asleep in bed.

Graham
 22 October 2005 08:08 PM
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Avatar for ebee.
ebee

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quote:

Originally posted by: gel
.CO

CO not CO2 = carbon monoxide by the way.


Sorry I stand corrected CO it is not CO2 (tired)



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Regards,
Ebee (M I S P N)

Knotted cables cause Lumpy Lektrik
 22 October 2005 08:43 PM
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Jimoldham

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after exhaustive research on the HSE web site i can't find anything about this subject.

questions

How long ago did this occur?

Where did it say the electrician shorted out any over temp trip?

-------------------------
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Jim Oldham
 22 October 2005 10:26 PM
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Avatar for gel.
gel

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June 2001Date

See

http://baldwin.butterworths.co...asp?id=10717&tid=7

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Gel__Big Brother is here
 22 October 2005 10:31 PM
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iselinger

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I see what the H&S report said but totally fail to understand the method by which the Cast Iron core (or anynother type of core for that matter) of an electric storage radiator can generate a significant quantity of CO.

Even if it did manage to produce some the quantity would be so small it would be unlikely to be any health threat. Unlike CO2 which is heavier than air and sinks, therefore death would actually be by drowning CO is actually 3% lighter than air and would therfore diffuse and be diluted by the the room air. Concentration would be very low.

My suspicion is that it was the high temperature induced chemical breakdown of some sort of insulation or heater construction material rather than "electricity" or the "Cast Iron" itself!

Does anyone really know?

Mr Stephenson care to respond? Has anyone got his email address?



Edited: 22 October 2005 at 10:54 PM by iselinger
 24 October 2005 02:33 PM
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mapj1

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New one on me too, but our site chemist has this thought. If as it appears the device was allowed to grossly overheat, and inside the air supply is limited, then a partial combustion of any surface treatment on the core or other innards could perhaps, at a push, have produced enough toxic fumes, including CO, to casue a fatality if in a small room. However, in practice, burning wiring insulation in an unventilated space is equally dissapointing, and more common. Our bet is on some sort of paint, or anti-rusting laquer, dissociating at a much higher temperature than it should have ever reached, and outgassing. Presumably the poor victim either had no sense of smell, or was asleep when it overheated, as it must have stunk.
Very unlucky, and irresponsible of the sparks to bypass the last ditch overheat trip (after all that is why it is there.)
regards M.

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regards Mike
 25 October 2005 09:27 AM
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Arnot

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Could it have had anything to do with the mineral fibre insulation I have seem used in some storage heaters?

Regards

Arnot
 27 October 2005 09:50 AM
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AlanKay

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We were taught as part of our A-Level chemistry course, that Emile Zola was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning.
In his case, the death was not due to a blocked stove chimney, as is often stated. Rather, it was due to the unusual property of high temperature cast iron to become porous to carbon monoxide. Zola's room was heated by a cast-iron stove, stoked to a very high temperature because of cold weather. The incomplete combustion product, carbon monoxide, was able to diffuse through the stove walls into the room, so causing Zola's death by poisoning.

Returning to the case in point though, and having described how red-hot cast-iron might permit passage of CO, I still see no obvious source of the gas. There must have been some part-combustion going on, but of what? Was the cast-iron core filled with timber? -seems unlikely to me. In light of the fact that all electricians are now "on notice" that the next occurrence will prompt a manslaughter charge, I think we should be told !

Alan

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Alan Kay, CEng MIEE
 27 October 2005 12:43 PM
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John Peckham

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In your first example the fuel not the stove generated the CO. As with gas solid fuel stoves need sufficent oxygen for complete combustion. Solid fuel stoves never completely combust the fuel and generate CO as a product of combustion. Solid fuel stoves are open flued devices and require an efficent flue to prevent spillage in to the room. In addition to the efficent flue
there must be ample ventilation of the room to supply the stove with oxygen.

I have a floor standing cast iron balanced flue gas boiler. The cast iron is heated by the combustion and the cast iron is exposed to the room. I don't believe heating cast iron liberates CO even though it is rich in carbon. There are plenty of cast iron boilers, cookers (Agas) and radiators around which do not cause this problem.

There must have been something burning slowly in this storage heater to generate the CO. I wonder if it was the insulating material or paint becomming overheated?

Regards

John Peckham

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John Peckham

http://www.astutetechnicalservices.co.uk/
 27 October 2005 02:52 PM
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Avatar for Pactrol.
Pactrol

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Hi
while we have all this exspert knowledge available maybe someone can help me with a little problem Im having with a bain marie food warming trolly
problem is it keeps overheating & melting the fusible thermal link which goes at 120 deg C this has me at a loss as the thermostat cuts of at 93 deg C + 0r - 5 deg & before you ask yes I have replaced the stat & checked the heating element for any shorts or insulation breakdown earth faults etc its sound.

your thoughts gentlemem please. Im running out of thermal fuses.


Pactrol against part with yer money pee scam
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