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Gov considers carbon monoxide monitor law

April 27, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Carbon monoxide monitors in homes can save lives. But should they be required by state law? The governor must now decide whether to sign a bill to that effect.It's a scary situation that plays out throughout California every year: a colorless and odor gas, carbon monoxide, seeps out someone's heater or appliance with terrible consequences to unsuspecting residents.

Ta'Juan Campell's sister, Tara Lynn, died in her Beverly Hills apartment three years ago.

"She turned on her heater, laid on the couch to watch TV before bed, and she was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning that night," said Campbell, Tara Lynn's Brother.

Surviving such incidents, like Cynthia Smith of San Francisco did, has lifelong health effects.

"My motor skills were impacted and my vision became worse. I ceased to be able to work or drive normally," said Smith.

The California Air Resources Board says up to 40 "avoidable deaths" and up to 700 "avoidable emergency room" visits occur every year because of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Governor Schwarzenegger has a proposal on his desk that would require existing homes with fireplaces or attached garages, rentals and dorms to install carbon monoxide detectors. Victims and lawmakers urged him to sign it.

"It's time for California to join with the 26 other states that have already passed these life-saving measures," said state Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach).

The governor vetoed similar legislation last year; so the bill, while it makes sense, is not a slam-dunk.

Schwarzenegger thought the Buildings Commission should regulate new home requirements, not the Legislature. But this year's measure excludes them.

Other opponents didn't like the costs to property owners.

But just ask Jason Sanders the value of a $30 alarm.

"If it was not for our carbon monoxide detector, my family would have been dead in minutes," said Sanders.