The HSE is issuing this notice to those who use, install, maintain or distribute wood pellet boilers or manufacture/store/distribute wood pellets. Since 2002 there have been at least nine fatalities in Europe caused by carbon monoxide poisoning following entry into wood pellet storage areas. Although there have not been any incidents so far in the UK the use of wood pellets is increasing and awareness of this danger is required. Wood pellet boilers are used in homes and businesses as an alternative to oil or gas fired boilers. They are also being installed to replace coal-fired boilers, particularly in schools.
Carbon monoxide can kill quickly without warning. It is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas that is highly toxic. When carbon monoxide enters the body, it prevents the blood from bringing oxygen to cells, tissues, and organs.