Petition Seeks to Prevent Over 1,500
Deaths Per Year
MCS Referral & Resources
professional outreach, patient support and public advocacy
devoted to the diagnosis, treatment, accommodation and prevention
of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Disorders
PRESS RELEASE Contact: Albert
12 January 2001 410-889-6666 or adonnay @ mcsrr.org
Petition Seeks to Prevent Over 1,500 Deaths Per Year
Caused by Carbon Monoxide From Idling Motor Vehicles
Mr. Donnay's nine-page petition and a two-page
summary are available on-line at www.mcsrr.org.
In an effort to prevent over 1,500 deaths per year caused by carbon monoxide (CO) from idling motor vehicles in the United States and Canada, Albert Donnay, the president of MCS Referral & Resources, filed a formal petition on 1/12/01 with the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Canada's Road Safety Directorate. The petition cites a 1991 NHTSA-funded study that recommended digital CO detectors linked to an automatic engine cut-off switch and costing just $11.39 in parts could prevent both the unintentional deaths caused by vehicular CO (about 200 per year) and the suicides (about 1,300 per year). The death toll caused by CO poisoning in moving vehicles may be even greater. Mr. Donnay's petition cites published data showing that up to 10% of fatalities in motor vehicle "accidents" may be related to recent CO poisoning, based on studies finding high carbon monoxide levels in the blood of deceased drivers.
Unfortunately, NHTSA never acted on any of these findings or commissioned any other studies of CO detectors in vehicles. It even rejected a petition filed by an individual in 1997 asking only that vehicle manufacturers be required to offer CO detectors as optional equipment and mention them in their owners' manuals. But NHTSA clearly recognizes some responsibility for fixing CO problems: it has recalled thousands of recreational vehicles due to CO problems with gas appliances and gas generators, and it published two Research Notes reviewing data on CO deaths from the US National Center for Health Statistics in 1996 and 2000. These data show that deaths from CO in stationary idling vehicles, which are not currently included in NHTSA's database of fatalities from moving motor vehicle accidents, would add another 5% to the annual total if they were. CO deaths in vehicles also are not ever publicly mentioned by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, which focuses only on the 200 other CO deaths per year caused by household appliances.
Mr. Donnay filed his petition in memory and honor of Barbara Lighter of Montreal, a high school friend who died of CO poisoning in her vehicle in 2000, and the over 16,000 others who also have died needlessly of this preventable cause since CO detectors linked to engine cut-off switches were first proposed in 1991.
"I hope NHTSA and the auto industry will not delay another decade," says Mr. Donnay, "while five more people, on average, die of carbon monoxide poisoning from motor vehicles every day." As Dr. William Haddon, Jr., President of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, first said about vehicular CO problems in 1973: "The death penalty is not appropriate for the unwary owner of a poorly designed car."
Mr. Donnay's nine-page petition and a two-page summary are available on-line at www.mcsrr.org.
Individuals and organizations in the US and Canada who would like to add their name in support of the petition may do so up until February 14, 2001, by calling MCS Referral & Resources at 410-889-6666 or emailing Mr. Donnay at adonnay @ mcsrr.org.
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