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Residential Carbon Monoxide Alarm Prevalence and Ordinance Awareness

Iqbal, Shahed PhD, MBBS; Clower, Jacquelyn H. MPH; Saha, Shubhayu PhD; Boehmer, Tegan K. PhD; Mattson, Christine PhD; Yip, Fuyuen Y. PhD; Cobb, Robert D. BS; Flanders, W. D. MD, DSc

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice: May/June 2012 - Volume 18 - Issue 3 - p 272–278
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e318221b1d1
Research Articles

Objective: Unintentional carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a leading cause of poisoning in the United States. Most poisoning cases occur in residential settings and a working CO alarm may prevent many of these events. The use of a CO alarm is mandated in many parts of the country; however, little is known about the compliance and adoption of such ordinances at the population level. This study determined the prevalence of residential CO alarm and awareness of a 2001 CO alarm ordinance in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina in 2009.

Methods: A random sample of households stratified by housing type (eg, single-family homes, multifamily homes) was included in a cross-sectional survey conducted. One adult respondent from each household was administered a questionnaire that included information on sociodemographic and household characteristics, presence of a CO alarm, and CO alarm ordinance awareness. Data were analyzed using multivariate stratified conditional logistic regression.

Results: Among 214 participating households (response rate, 23.4%), 145 (67.8%) reported having a working CO alarm and 79 (36.9%) of the respondents were aware of the CO alarm ordinance. Respondents who were aware of the ordinance had 9 times higher odds (95% confidence interval, 3.3–25.9) of having a CO alarm than those who were unaware. Also, households with an attached garage had more than 2 times higher odds (95% confidence interval, 1.0–6.2) of having a CO alarm than those without an attached garage. Awareness of the CO alarm ordinance was not associated with any sociodemographic (eg, age, sex, race, education, income) or household (eg, home ownership, home construction year) characteristics.

Conclusions: Carbon monoxide alarm prevalence in Mecklenburg County households was higher than the national average and was associated with CO alarm ordinance awareness. Public health efforts might benefit from regulations aimed at population-level adoption of preventive health behaviors.

The use of a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm is mandated in many parts of the United States; however, little is known about the compliance and adoption of such ordinances at the population level. This study determined the residential CO alarm prevalence and awareness of a 2001 CO alarm ordinance in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina in 2009.

Epidemic Intelligence Service (Drs Iqbal and Mattson) and Prevention Effectiveness Fellowship program (Dr Saha), Scientific Education and Professional Development Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia; CaZador, contracted to Air Pollution and Respiratory Health Branch (Ms Clower), Air Pollution and Respiratory Health Branch (Drs Iqbal, Saha, Boehmer, and Yip), and Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects (Dr Flanders), National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia; Behavioral and Clinical Surveillance Branch, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia (Dr Mattson); Mecklenburg County Health Department, North Carolina (Mr Cobb); and Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia (Dr Flanders).

Correspondence: Shahed Iqbal, PhD, MBBS, MPH, 1600 Clifton Road NE, MS D-26, Atlanta, GA 30333 (SIqbal@cdc.gov).

The authors thank the contribution and support of the following: Uju Obi, CDC Experience Applied Epidemiology Fellow; Tobin Bradley, Mecklenburg County Geospatial Information Service; Mecklenburg County Health Department; Charlotte Fire Department; Mecklenburg County Fire Marshal's Office; Mecklenburg County Geospatial Information Service; Mecklenburg County Emergency Medical Service Agency (MEDIC); North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services; and Huey Chen, PhD, Air Pollution and Respiratory Health Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.