Numerous carbon monoxide alarms have been removed from Amazon and eBay after failing safety tests.
According to consumer watchdog Which, some of these alarms already failed safety tests in 2016. Three unbranded devices, made in China, failed to sound when there was carbon monoxide present.
One of the detectors, the Topolek carbon monoxide (CO) alarm, has been listed as a "Don’t Buy" by Which. In lab tests performed by the company, it frequently failed to detect carbon monoxide. Which advises consumers that bought one of these alarms to replace with one of their "Best Buy" selections. For alarms to qualify as a "Best Buy," they must pass the 24 tests performed by the company.
Which, who says the current UK product testing system is flawed, advises consumers who bought these alarms to replace them immediately. Buyers should also request a refund. Which Managing Director of Home Products and Services Alex Neill says to BBC, "It's extremely concerning that these unsafe alarms were being sold by major retailers. When household names such as Amazon and eBay are selling products that could put consumers at risk, it is clear more must be done by businesses and the government to proactively identify potentially dangerous products and stop them from entering people's homes."
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Which says the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) should take an "active role" in calling out products that pose a safety risk. Amazon and eBay have removed the alarms tested by Which and another 50 alarms that were suspected of being produced by the same Chinese manufacturers. According to an eBay spokesperson, "The safety of customers is our number one priority and we work closely with bodies such as Trading Standards to ensure listings sold on our marketplace comply with the law. The items flagged by Which? did not comply with the required UK regulations and were removed. We are working with the sellers of these products to ensure their customers are aware they have been removed from the site."
Amazon told the BBC, "all sellers must follow our selling guidelines and those who don't will be subject to action including potential removal of their account. The products in question are no longer available."
Carbon monoxide— known as the "silent killer" given that it is invisible and odorless— resulted in a total of 2,244 deaths in the United States from 2010 to 2015. Most deaths occurred during the winter months. Since January 2016, carbon monoxide alarms are mandatory within 10 feet of each room in every hotel or building with a fossil fuel burning heater, fireplace, attached garage, or any appliance that emits carbon monoxide. Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia require carbon monoxide detectors in private residences, however, only California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, and Maryland require carbon monoxide detectors in school buildings.