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Campaign to improve carbon monoxide safety in the home

A Lancaster University PhD student is investigating the effects on older people’s health of chronic exposure to low level carbon monoxide (CO).

Beth Cheshire from the Faculty of Health and Medicine’s Centre4Ageing is working with West Midlands Fire Service to investigate the links between household appliances like cookers and heaters and accidental exposure to carbon monoxide.

She said: “Currently, there is a knowledge gap regarding ‘safe’ levels of carbon monoxide exposure and whether chronic exposure to low-levels of carbon monoxide is associated with neuropsychological effects.

“Working alongside West Midlands Fire Service, my PhD is examining the health and cognition effects of such exposures within an older adult population and will hopefully make a valuable contribution to scientific knowledge in this research area, as well as an impact on policy and real lives. “

Beth attended ‘The Brain and CO’ roundtable organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group (APPCOG) sponsored by the Gas Safety Trust. The APPCOG brings together parliamentarians in order to raise the important issue of CO safety through discussing CO poisoning prevention, improvements in government policies, and raising public awareness.

The group works alongside CO campaigners, charities and energy industry companies dedicated to reducing the mortality rate and morbidity associated with CO poisoning. The APPCOG also includes working groups of medical, healthcare, science and research, and communications professionals.

The roundtable, chaired by MP Chris Bryant, brought together parliamentarians, members of the Gas Safety Trust, acquired brain injury campaigners and academic and medical professionals to discuss:

· Recognising CO poisoning as an acquired brain injury
· Differentiation between the neuropsychological effects associated with acute and chronic CO poisoning
· Improvements in diagnosis and treatment pathways
· Reducing the number of CO-related poisonings through increased awareness and preventative measures.

Some of the outcomes of the roundtable included:

· NHS England to improve diagnosis and awareness through investing in training for healthcare professionals and for GPs to be provided with CO testing equipment to aid diagnosis.
· NHS England to work with research institutions in order to develop a specialised clinic for CO-poisoned patients with neuropsychological effects.
· Government should introduce preventative measures in order to reduce CO poisoning incidents such as mandating CO alarms in the home and promote CO awareness and safety.


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