Total ban urged on flueless heaters

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 March, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 March, 1999, 12:00am

Legislators yesterday called for a total ban on flueless gas water heaters, following the death of two people in January from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by the appliances.

Officials proposed banning the use of the heaters in bathrooms or showers after an advisory committee was split on a total ban.

But at Legco's economic services panel, Cheung Man-kwong of the Democratic Party said the heaters' sale and installation should be outlawed.

'Such heaters may be installed in kitchens and connected to the bathroom,' he said.

'They have caused deaths. The Government should not be so soft and should ban the heaters in kitchens also.' Chan Kam-lam of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong said the heaters should not only be banned in bathrooms.

'It is very weird not to ban their sale,' he said.

'Suppose fewer people buy them because they are not allowed to be used in bathrooms.

'The supplier cuts the price by a large amount. Some elderly people may not know it is dangerous and may buy it.' Raymond Ho Chung-tai, who represents the engineering sector, and Cheung Wing-sum also supported a total ban.

'It you think it is a bomb if it is installed in bathrooms, the bomb in the kitchen should also be destroyed,' Mr Cheung said.

Secretary for Economic Services Stephen Ip Shu-kwan said he would consider members' views.

Towngas has said that flueless water heaters are no longer available.

By last Thursday the company had visited all of the 15,856 homes which have Towngas flueless water heaters connected to showers.

Of these, 15,443 visits had been successful and 7,421 families were ordered to improve safety measures.

For liquefied petroleum gas flueless water heaters, suppliers had made 13,095 visits out of 15,837.

Only about one-third had been successful and 3,281 needed better safety.