A new study seeks to understand the relationship between fuel poverty and carbon monoxide poisoning.
National Energy Action is to lead the research, which will examine households that qualify for assistance from the Priority Services Register and look for possible links with carbon monoxide poisoning.
This investigation follows a study from the Department of Health in 2011, which suggested that around one-fifth of all lower-income households could be regularly exposed to carbon monoxide levels greater than the World Health Organisation’s guidance.
The Gas Safety Trust, which has confirmed funding for National Energy Action’s research, pointed out that, in order to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning at home, people need regular appliance services and maintenance, and to install audible CO alarms. It noted that such activities cost money, and are unlikely to be considered a priority for households with tight budgets.
Furthermore, Priority Services Register households are disproportionately likely to be privately rented, and data from the Gas Safe Register indicates that these households are particularly likely to have unsafe gas work – overall, 22% of homes in the private rental sector have potentially hazardous gas work, compared with 12% of social housing residences and 16% of owner-occupied households.
Families that qualify for Priority Services Register assistance may also be eligible for a range of other forms of help that could support their health and safety, but may not yet take advantage of these additional services. Organisations that visit such households will be in a good position to identify those that could benefit from this further assistance.
Gas Safety Trust Chairman Chris Bielby said he is “delighted” to say his organisation will fund the study.
Calling it an “important initiative”, he argued it is “critical” for the industry to understand links between deprivation and carbon monoxide hazards.
National Energy Action Senior Research and Policy Officer David Lynch said that he “passionately” cares about understanding the relationship between carbon monoxide poisoning and vulnerable, low-income households.
He said the research will help his organisation gain a “real insight” into the attitudes and behaviours of householders, and that it will work alongside partner organisations to ensure that the findings of the study are embedded into future policies and initiatives.
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