Status:
Active
Health advisory:
AL180007
Date Issued:
29 Mar 2018
Issued by:
Dr Brett Sutton, Acting Chief Health Officer, Victoria
Issued to:
General practitioners, hospital emergency departments and the Victorian public

Key messages

  • Vulcan or Pyrox Heritage gas space heaters should not be used due to possible unsafe levels of carbon monoxide under certain conditions.
  • The combination of inadequate ventilation, as well as operating bathroom exhaust fans or kitchen range hoods at the same time as the heater, can draw carbon monoxide into living areas. The risk is increased if the heater and associated components such as the flue are not regularly serviced.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services has written to tenants of public housing properties advising them not to use their Vulcan or Pyrox Heritage gas space heater.
  • This issue may result in an increase in visits to emergency departments or general practitioners from people presenting with health concerns about potential carbon monoxide exposure from these gas heaters.  

What is the issue?

The use of Vulcan or Pyrox Heritage gas space heaters may produce increased indoor carbon monoxide levels under certain conditions. The combination of inadequate ventilation, as well as operating bathroom exhaust fans or kitchen range hoods at the same time as the heater, can draw carbon monoxide into living areas. The risk is increased if the heater and associated components such as the flue are not regularly serviced.

Energy Safe Victoria is urging Victorians with either a Vulcan or Pyrox Heritage gas space heater in their home not to use them until they are tested by a qualified gas fitter.

The Department of Health and Human Services is inspecting these gas heaters in public housing properties. Heaters that fail a carbon monoxide test will be disconnected and replaced. Heaters that pass the carbon monoxide test will go on a priority list for replacement.

This issue may result in an increase in visits to emergency departments or general practitioners from people presenting with health concerns about potential carbon monoxide exposure from these gas heaters.

Who is at risk?

All Victorians using a Vulcan or Pyrox Heritage gas space heater may be at risk of increased indoor carbon monoxide levels under certain conditions.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odourless, colourless gas that may affect your health if breathed in. Symptoms can include tiredness, shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, nausea, weakness, confusion or chest pain. Seek medical advice if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

Recommendations

Consumers are advised not to use Vulcan or Pyrox Heritage space heaters until the units have been tested by a qualified gasfitter.

Energy Safe Victoria has posted specific information on their website.

The department has written to tenants of public housing properties advising them not to use their Vulcan or Pyrox Heritage gas space heater.

Tenants are advised in the letter that anyone experiencing symptoms that may be due to carbon monoxide exposure to seek medical advice or call the NURSE-ON-CALL, which is available on 1300 60 60 24 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). In an emergency call 000. 

More information

Consumer information

Better Health Channel Gas heating - health and safety issues

Energy Safe Victoria: Program in place to address CO risk in Heritage gas heaters

Contacts

DHHS housing tenants can contact the department’s Housing hotline on 1800 148 426 for more information

Other consumers with a Pyrox or Vulcan Heritage gas heater should call Climate Technologies on (03) 8795 2462.

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