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Old 20.01.2011, 21:00
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Chronic Exposure to CO and other Combustion Gases

I have an important and urgent inquiry with regards to my living situation in which I believe I have been exposed to high or medium high levels of CO and other combustion gases in a regular basis for the past 3 months.

In my apartment a Green house heater GKT 4000 was installed by Propagaz (a gas distributor in Switzerland) when no exhaust is present and as the main heating appliance in the apartment. The landlord said that she received the confirmation from the" Swiss Association of Gas and Water SVGW that the heater GKT 4000 fulfils the requirements of the European gas appliance directive (90/396 EWG). Therefore it can be used without any problem in living rooms."

First of All I contacted the SVGW directly and they said they did not certify such heater and the landlord never sent such confirmation.

Second, just because it fullfills the Gas appliance regulations that does not mean that it fullfills certain health regulations by the health administration in Switzerland. Its a green house heater I do not believe it has been tested as a living space heater as it was not designed for it. And in fact that is what the Federal Office of Public Health said. They in fact said that in living rooms as a minimum requirement the health-based WHO Indoor Air Guidelines for carbon monoxide (CO) have to be met.
http://www.euro.who.int/en/what-we-d...ted-pollutants

Guidelines
15 minutes – 100 mg/m3 = 86 ppm (1 mg/m3 = 0.858 ppm at 20°C, 1.013 bar)
1 hour – 35 mg/m3 = 30 ppm
8 hours – 10 mg/m3 = 9 ppm
24 hours – 7 mg/m3 = 6 ppm

I did not contact these agencies neverthless until after three months I had been living here since I trusted my landlord that when she said the heater was safe she actually cared about my health and did some research.

I was yet skeptical and worried about the air quality of the apartment and therefore I bought a CO sensor that at this point has alarmed 3 times and at that point the fire department was called and they measured a CO concentration of 35 ppms. The heater had been running for around 6 hours.

So at this point I have proof that the CO concentration was in fact too high. But now the landlord is saying that OSHA regulations apply. Which first of all deal with OCCUPATIONAL second of all it says that its 35 ppms max 8 hrs a day for 40 hrs max a week. THis is my home not work, and its Switzerand not the US.

So the question is what do I do now? If she refuses to provide heat any other way? Is there any legal action I can take. At this point I believed the distributor have endagered my health in a negligent manner and therefore should be punished. How do I proceed legaly against them?
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Old 20.01.2011, 21:13
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Re: Chronic Exposure to CO and other Combustion Gases

www.mieterverband.ch
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Old 20.01.2011, 21:26
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Re: Chronic Exposure to CO and other Combustion Gases

Are you having any symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning? If so get yourself to a Dr ASAP for some blood tests.

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Carbon-.../Symptoms.aspx
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Old 20.01.2011, 21:36
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Re: Chronic Exposure to CO and other Combustion Gases

Turn it off immediately and do not use it again. Worry about who is responsible later.

Get yourself checked by a Doctor as soon as possible.

http://www.rospa.com/homesafety/advi...arbonmonoxide/
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Old 20.01.2011, 22:01
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Re: Chronic Exposure to CO and other Combustion Gases

Several years ago now my flatmate kept getting "colds" and "'flu" and was generally under the weather for about 2 months. Our courses finished and we both moved out.

About four weeks later, one person in that house died and another had to be taken to a decompression unit to get the CO out of their blood. My flatmate had to testify at the landlord's trial (incidently, he was one of the nicer landlords I had). He was gaoled for two years. Fortunately the second student survived.

Don't take risks with CO - just stop using the thing. If you think you have a cold or the 'flu then that could be the first stage of CO poisoning. I'm sorry I can't be more help with the legal aspects but I'd sooner be feeling cold in the flat rather than very cold and 6 foot under.
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Old 20.01.2011, 23:15
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Re: Chronic Exposure to CO and other Combustion Gases

Hi Elizab.

You should join one of these "Tenant's protection societies" in Lausanne,

http://yellow.local.ch/en/q/?what=as...id=directories

These associations are staffed by young lawyers or experts. They will tell you what to do, and help you write the letters. The fees are very low!

It seems dangerous, so maybe switch the heating off at night! Open the window during the day. You can claim compensation for no heating. Good luck!
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Old 20.01.2011, 23:43
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Re: Chronic Exposure to CO and other Combustion Gases

Definitely, like others have said, you need to turn off that unit and join ASLOCA and go talk to the asap.
http://www.asloca.ch


this is the link for the one in Lausanne with open hours, fees, etc. Call tomorrow AM for an appointment.
http://www.asloca.ch/?q=node/51

ASLOCA-LAUSANNE
Rue Jean-Jacques Cart 8
case postale 56
1006 Lausanne

Téléphone: 0840 17 10 07
Fax: 021 617 11 48
e-mail: asloca.ls@asloca.ch

Permanence téléphonique:
Téléphone: 0840 17 10 07

Lundi au jeudi: 9h00–12h00 et 13h30–16h30
Vendredi: 9h00–12h00 et 15h–16h30

Consultations:
Sur rendez vous

Lausanne: du lundi au vendredi; mercredi soir: 18h30–20h00
Morges: mardi matin, mardi soir et jeudi matin
Renens: lundi soir, mardi après-midi et jeudi après-midi
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Old 21.01.2011, 17:03
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Re: Chronic Exposure to CO and other Combustion Gases

The dangerous part of CO poisoning is that beyond the shortness of breath and nausea and other constitutional symptoms, many times people go to bed... and get a lethal exposure during the night.

CO sensors are thresholded specifically to detect harmful levels for humans. If it's going off, your CO levels are too high. Do not use it and have the landlord change it.
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Old 01.02.2011, 21:38
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Re: Chronic Exposure to CO and other Combustion Gases

Thank you everybody for all your helpful answers. I will keep you posted as the story unfolds..
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Old 01.02.2011, 21:51
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Re: Chronic Exposure to CO and other Combustion Gases

And do not worry, I stopped using the thing after the fire department came. The fundamental problem NOW is that even when my sensor had alarmed 3 times and the fire department had come and measured dangerous concentrations my landlord still continues saying that there is "zero risk" in any regards when using the heater, subsequently the heater was reinstalled and she still expects me to use it. This story gets very very complicated but I will post it once I have it resolved Thank you everybody!
I had some symptoms but like some people posted they are non-specific. Nevertheless, the dangers of CO are clear- chronic exposures to low-mid levels of CO can cause permanent brain/heart damage and short term high levels of CO can kill you at once. Why would anybody knowingly expose you to a dangerous living situation?
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