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

December 6, 2006
Release Number: 07044

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 tstevenson@cpsc.gov



STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE NANCY A. NORD
ACTING CHAIRMAN
U.S. CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION

BALLOT VOTE
(ADVANCE NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING FOR PORTABLE GENERATORS)
December 5, 2006

Today I am voting to publish for comment an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) to address the carbon monoxide (CO) risk posed when a portable generator is improperly used in or near a home. One of the Commission's strategic goals is to reduce the number of non-fire related CO poisoning deaths associated with consumer products. 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 poisoning associated with generators. I look forward to the public's comments on this ANPR, and to continuing to work with all of our stakeholders to find a solution to avoid the tragic but preventable deaths that occur from CO poisoning by portable generators.



STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE THOMAS H. MOORE
ON THE ADVANCE NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING ON PORTABLE GENERATORS
December 5, 2006

I am voting today to approve a Federal Register notice on the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on Portable Generators. I am very pleased that the Commission is considering what actions it might take to reduce the growing number of deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning related to the use of portable generators.

I will register my usual protest about the ballot and the Federal Register Notice having been marked "For Official Use Only" (thus restricting it from public view until after Commission action) without any analysis of whether such a restrictive designation is necessary. In this case, the original ANPR on portable generators, issued back in July of this year was unrestricted (much of which is identical to the ANPR being voted upon today), as was the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the labeling of generators. Such documents have been unrestricted for most of the Commission's history and there is no reason to change that long-standing policy. For a fuller discussion of this issue, see my statement on the carpet and rug standard amendments, dated October 31, 2006.