Carbon monoxide detector standards
Carbon monoxide is a leading cause of poisoning death and poisoning related injury worldwide.
Obviously carbon monoxide detector standards are important but do existing standards actually
protect your health and family? Shockingly they only protect against acute poisoning but do not protect against
Carbon Monoxide Alarm Standard
(USA & Canada) UL-2034 / CSA-6.19
This standard was implemented in the early 1990's to cover detectors supplied and used in the US, Canada, and
Mexico. The standard has been amended a number of times since its inception (1997, 1998, 2001). Products officially
approved to this standard must be clearly marked with the UL symbol.
American carbon monoxide detector requirements:
- Must NOT sound an audible alarm at 70 ppm or less for 60 minutes
- Must NOT sound an audible alarm at 30 ppm for 30 DAYS
- MAY NOT sound an audible alarm at 70 ppm for up to 4 hours, [240 minutes]
- ALL UL-2034 / CSA-6.19 C O alarms are “Tested” only at 70, 150 and 400 ppm
- The Standards state that 70 ppm can be +/-5 ppm; therefore the LOWEST LEVEL that a UL-2034 / CSA-6.19 C O
alarm MUST BE TESTED is 65 ppm.
The "WARNINGS LISTED" on every UL-2034, CSA-6.19 or I.A.S. detector make it VERY CLEAR that their alarms DO NOT
provide "Health" Protection because they FORBID AUDIBLE WARNINGS AT 30 PPM for 30 DAYS; thereby providing NO, ZERO
PROTECTION from chronic low level carbon monoxide poisoning.
European CO Detector Standard: EN50291
This standard was implemented in April 2001 and superseded the British Standard BS7860 in April 2006. Approved
products must be clearly marked with the EN50291 number and may also display the Kitemark symbol.
European carbon monoxide detector requirements:
- at 30 ppm CO, the alarm must not activate for at least 120 minutes
- at 50 ppm CO, the alarm must not activate before 60 minutes but must activate before 90 minutes
- at 100 ppm CO, the alarm must not activate before 10 minutes but must activate before 40 minutes
- at 300 ppm CO, the alarm must activate within 3 minutes
The problem with carbon monoxide detector standards
Carbon monoxide detector standards are designed to trigger alarms when carbon monoxide levels reach a certain
level (for a certain amount of time).
They are designed to prevent acute
poisoning (one time accidental poisoning). They are not designed to prevent chronic poisoning (multiple low level
The standards totally ignore the risk and danger of [ongoing] exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide - which
is a genuine threat and danger to a far greater number of people.
For example: The United States (Underwriters Laboratories or UL) and Canada (CSA) have coordinated carbon
monoxide standards and product testing. 2010 standards prohibit showing CO levels of less than 30 ppm on digital
displays. New standards require the alarm to activate at higher (not lower) levels of carbon monoxide than the old
The reason for the changes is to reduce calls to fire departments, utilities and emergency response teams when
the carbon monoxide levels are not life threatening (but ignores the fact that low level CO exposure is health
This means that new alarms will not sound at CO concentrations up to 70 ppm. It is ironic and "alarming" as this
is significantly in excess of Health Canada guidelines as well as Occupation Safety and Health Guidelines.
Detectors with a digital display and a "history" option can provide the true CO concentrations in a house. A
low-level display is useful for people with existing respiratory problems, heart conditions, or anyone wanting to
be proactive (rather than waiting for a situation to become serious). Low-level CO detection products are
commercially available but are not certified to CSA or UL standards as these standards prohibit low-level
Although not widely available, low level carbon monoxide detectors save lives and also alert people to low
levels of CO - which can trigger symptoms
Buy a low level carbon monoxide detector here...
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