The Gas Safety Trust (GST), this week, confirmed funding for National Energy Action’s carbon monoxide (CO) study, which will look at households qualifying for Priority Services Register (PSR) assistance and the possible link with CO exposure.
Preventing CO poisoning in the home requires, in addition to correct use of appliances, the regular maintenance and servicing of appliances (and the installation of audible CO alarms). These activities are not free, and are unlikely to be prioritised by households that have very tight budgets. PSR households are frequently those that are privately rented, and evidence suggests that these tenures are higher risk than others.
Gas Safe Register data reveals that 22% of private rented sector homes have unsafe gas work, compared to 16% in owner-occupied and 12% in social housing. Also, a Department of Health study in 2011 suggested that one-fifth of lower-income households could regularly be exposed to CO levels above WHO guidance.
In addition to this, households qualifying for PSR-based assistance are also likely to qualify for a range of other forms of assistance that could improve their health and welfare, but for whatever reasons are not yet exploiting these services. Organisations visiting PSR households are in a good position to identify such households and refer them onto further assistance.
This research will seek to understand CO knowledge, behaviour and practices amongst low income households.
Chris Bielby, Gas Safety Trust Chairman said:
“I am delighted to be able to confirm that the Gas Safety Trust is funding this important initiative. Fuel poverty is an issue that the industry takes very seriously and I think it is critical that we look to understand whether there is a link between deprivation and a carbon monoxide related safety risk.
“We have worked with National Energy Action to develop this project which will utilise their extensive network and I look forward to reading its findings in due course.”
David Lynch (Senior Research & Policy Officer) at National Energy Action said:
“NEA is delighted with the announcement of this funding. Understanding more about the links between exposure to carbon monoxide poisoning and low income, vulnerable households is something we at NEA care passionately about. Our research will enable us to gain real insight into the daily behaviours and attitudes of householders using various fuel burning appliances within their home. NEA will work with our strategic partners to ensure the findings of this research are embedded in future initiatives and policies to help reduce to risks associated with CO”.