On behalf of Shea & Shea – A Professional Law Corporation posted in Public Safety on Monday, November 12, 2012.
There are many locations in the United States where refrigerators are power with Liquid Propane Gas (LPG). The benefits of such an appliance are apparent in locations where electrical power is frequently interrupted. However, the dangers of such a product is that, by design, the refrigerator produces Carbon Monoxide (CO) which is an insidious poison that is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. In lower concentrations, CO can cause headache, dizziness and fatigue. In higher concentrations CO is fatal.
Some LPG refrigerators require venting to the outside. However many, again by design, vent directly into the living space. Those refrigerators that vent directly into a living space are the most dangerous of all in that the occupant is unable to ever ascertain from the normal operation of the product, whether the CO levels are acceptable or fatal. In Canada, manufacturers of LPG powered refrigerators are required to equip their products with automatic shut off mechanisms if dangerous levels of CO are detected by the device. No such requirement exists in the United States.
The danger to the consumer with propane gas refrigerators arises with incomplete combustion, which occurs when the flow of intake air or the venting of exhaust becomes disrupted. This disruption can occur for a variety of reasons, including defects in design, defects in manufacturing or improper maintenance to name a few. Either of the problems, or a combination of both, can result in the discharge of carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless and deadly poison. Mild exposure to carbon monoxide can produce symptoms such as headaches, runny nose, sore eyes and other “flu-like” symptoms. Moderate exposure can produce symptoms of dizziness, drowsiness, and vomiting. Prolonged exposure and render victims unconscious, cause brain damage and even death.