Lynne and her daughter Lulu have had their world flipped upside down by a faulty gas heater in their home where they rent.
“We have been unwell with symptoms consistent with exposure to carbon monoxide for some time,” said Lynne. “After multiple doctors’ visits failed to find the cause, I deduced there may be an issue with the ducted heating vent, so I requested a safety check.”
The technician advised that part of the exhaust flue had melted which allowed carbon monoxide to leak and enter the house through draughty walls and floorboards.
The impact this has had on them is considerable. Carbon monoxide poisoning can have long-lasting tissue damage, and symptoms can re-emerge even after the exposure has ceased. There is no known treatment.
“Lulu has missed out on a lot of school and has had to repeat year 6. I have struggled in caregiving and have been unable to return to work due to extreme fatigue, loss of brain function, immune issues and exacerbation of other medical conditions. It’s been a really isolating experience.”
Sadly, this horror story is not uncommon. Lynne and Lulu are just two of the many people we surveyed who have suffered from leaky gas appliances.
Lynne would like sweeping reforms to address this issue, including mandatory carbon monoxide alarms in all rentals, regular servicing of ducted gas heaters, reporting of poisoning incidents and better research into the long-term health impacts of carbon monoxide.
“I’d also like to see policy changes so landlords are encouraged to transition investment properties from gas to rooftop solar and all-electric homes.”
Read more about Victorian families like Lynee and Lulu who are advocating for the transition to go all-electric in our report, What do Victorians think about gas?