Charcoal produces carbon monoxide (CO) when it is burned. CO is a colorless, odorless gas that can accumulate to toxic levels in closed environments. Each year about 30 people die and 100 are injured as a result of CO fumes from charcoal grills and hibachis used inside.
To reduce these CO poisonings, CPSC is offering the following safety tips:
- Never burn charcoal inside of homes, vehicles, tents, or campers. Charcoal should never be used indoors, even if ventilation is provided.
- Since charcoal produces CO fumes until the charcoal is completely extinguished, do not store the grill indoors with freshly used coals.
In April 1996, CPSC voted to revise the label on charcoal packaging to more explicitly warn consumers of the deadly CO gas that is released when charcoal is burned in a closed environment. The new label reads, "WARNING...CARBON MONOXIDE HAZARD...Burning charcoal inside can kill you. It gives off carbon monoxide, which has no odor. NEVER burn charcoal inside homes, vehicles or tents." The new label also conveys the written warning visually with drawings of grills inside a home, tent, and vehicle. The drawings are enclosed in a circle with an "X" through it. While the new label requirement will not become mandatory until the end of the year, many charcoal manufacturers have already started using the new labels on charcoal packaging.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission protects the public from the unreasonable risk of injury or death from 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury and for information on CPSC's fax-on-demand service, call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270. To order a press release through fax-on-demand, call (301) 504-0051 from the handset of your fax machine and enter the release number. Consumers can obtain this release and recall information at CPSC's web site at http://www.cpsc.gov. Consumers can report product hazards to firstname.lastname@example.org.