New Safety Rules for Portable Generators by 2024 in U.S.

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The U.S. government is planning to introduce new safety rules for portable generators, following a series of carbon monoxide poisoning deaths linked to their use. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced on Friday that it intends to recommend new mandatory standards to make portable generators safer, saying that manufacturers have not voluntarily done enough to prevent the deadly risk.

Portable generators are devices that use gasoline, propane, or diesel to produce electricity for backup or emergency purposes. They are often used by households and businesses during power outages, storms, or disasters. However, they also emit carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and death in high concentrations.

According to the CPSC, portable generators are the leading cause of CO-poisoning deaths in the U.S., accounting for more than 80% of the 900 fatalities reported between 2005 and 2017. The agency estimates that more than 15,000 people are treated in emergency rooms each year for CO exposure from portable generators. Many of these incidents occur when people use portable generators indoors or in enclosed spaces, such as garages, basements, or tents, where CO can quickly build up to lethal levels.

The CPSC has been trying to address this problem for more than a decade but has faced resistance from the portable generator industry, which argues that existing voluntary standards are sufficient and that mandatory rules would be costly and ineffective. The industry has also lobbied Congress to block the CPSC from issuing any mandatory regulations on portable generators.

However, the CPSC’s announcement comes two months after an investigation by the Washington Post and ProPublica revealed the deadly cost of the government’s failure to regulate portable generators. The investigation found that at least 751 people have died from CO poisoning from portable generators since 2005 and that the CPSC has repeatedly delayed or abandoned its efforts to impose stricter safety measures due to industry pressure and political interference.

The investigation also exposed how the portable generator industry has used deceptive marketing tactics to sell its products, such as claiming that they are safe to use indoors or that they have low CO emissions. The investigation also found that some manufacturers have failed to warn consumers about the dangers of CO poisoning or to provide adequate instructions on how to use portable generators safely.

The CPSC’s announcement signals a renewed push to protect consumers from the hazards of portable generators. The agency said it would propose new rules that would require portable generators to have automatic shutoff features or CO sensors that would turn off the engine or alert the user if CO levels become too high. The agency also said it will consider other measures, such as requiring portable generators to have catalytic converters or other devices that would reduce CO emissions.

The CPSC said it expects to publish its proposed rules in the Federal Register by the end of the year and to finalize them by the end of 2024. The agency said it will seek public comments and input from stakeholders before issuing the final rules. The agency also urged consumers to follow its existing safety tips for using portable generators, such as keeping them at least 20 feet away from any building, window, door, or vent, and installing battery-operated CO alarms in their homes.

The CPSC’s announcement was welcomed by consumer advocates, public health experts, and lawmakers who have been calling for stronger action on portable generators. They said the new rules could save hundreds of lives and prevent thousands of injuries each year. They also said the new rules could spur innovation and competition in the portable generator market, leading to safer and more efficient products.



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